Rising rates of loneliness among employees during the pandemic have put the well-being of employees top of mind for most companies as they map out the future of work. They know that loneliness brings health problems, reduced productivity, turnover, and burnout. Some, including JPMorgan and Google, have already declared a return to the office. While increasing face-to-face interaction may be beneficial for some aspects of work, it will not, by itself, create strong interpersonal bonds among colleagues. If it did, my research with INSEAD professor Mark Mortensen wouldn’t have shown high rates of loneliness in employees prior to the shift to social distancing and remote work.

Whatever form the return to the workplace takes, building high-quality connections will require a focused set of structures and practices built on a bedrock of psychological safety. Here are the five important elements to consider.

Understand psychological safety.
That executive’s experience highlights just how essential high-quality connections are for combatting workplace loneliness. Jane Dutton and her colleagues at the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations characterize high-quality connections as those based on empathy and interdependence. Ideally, as companies design their return-to-work policies and structures, they will focus on these two factors. But first they need to ensure psychological safety exists in their organization.


Read the full article at Harvard Business Review.