One might think that technological connectivity has or will soon save us from the blight of loneliness. But it seems that we feel more isolated today than ever. According to a report in The Atlantic, one in four Americans reports having no one with whom they can discuss important matters, compared with one in ten 30 years ago, and a 2013 survey conducted by Lifeboat found that the average American had only one real friend. The Guardian newspaper says we may have entered the “age of loneliness.” Tim Leberecht, In the Age of Loneliness, Connections at Work Matter.
In my opinion loneliness is an epidemic in the first world and the emotional and physical impact it has on us as a people isn’t being properly addressed. The advent of the “remote team” exacerbates the problem. I decided to lead with Tim’s post in the Harvard Business Review instead of The Atlantic’s Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?, because I wanted to post something actionable, especially for leaders who want to do something right now. Though the article in the Atlantic should be considered required reading too.
Tim describes six things leaders can offer in the workplace to combat loneliness and its effects. I think “lunch roulette” is my favorite.