Work From Home, Loneliness and the Salesforce Ranch...
The Value of Creating Connection in a Virtual World
In this issue: Work From Home, Loneliness and the Salesforce Ranch…/ COMIC: Finding peace with singlehood in a society that wants everyone to partner up: / Curiosity, Not Coding: 6 Skills Leaders Need In the Digital Age: / It’s Your Friends Who Break Your Heart/ The Lighter Side of Loneliness
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I'm Andrea J. Miller and this is my “On Leading Well” Newsletter. I send this to people in my networks, people I’ve met recently, and friends I want to keep in touch with. You can unsubscribe (SEE THE VERY BOTTOM OF THE EMAIL) anytime, I won’t be offended.
Work From Home, Loneliness and the Salesforce Ranch…The Value of Creating Connection in a Virtual World
Work from Home is the new ‘must have’ perk for employees.
It makes sense.
No more pantyhose or even pants for that matter…
And most importantly, it gives caregivers much-needed and long overdue flexibility to care for children and/or aging parents.
But it comes with a downside…
While WFH has very real and important benefits … it’s impossible to ignore the equally real, intrinsic need we have to connect.
Even the exponential growth in tech innovation can’t change that aspect of human biology (at least not yet).
You’re Only as Good as Your Loneliest Employee
Loneliness isn’t a new phenomenon that appeared suddenly with COVID and WFH.
Data shows that feelings of isolation have been increasing steadily since the 1980s (data collection began in the 1970s) and not surprisingly it turned upward in 2020.
A recent report by the Making Caring Common Project found that 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.”
This isn’t just bad for individuals; it has an impact on the whole organization.
Lonely people are often viewed as less effective.
And they’re less likely to stay.
Interestingly, when surveyed about job satisfaction and career plans, people were ten times more likely to say they would stay in jobs for friendships than a pay rise.
And those who had formed close work friendships saw a 50 percent boost in their job satisfaction and were seven times more likely to fully engage in their work
So, what are companies to do when their employees don’t seem to ever want to wear pants and/or take the subway again (though the pants part is sometimes optional on the NYC subway :)
Redefining Office Connections
To be clear, being in an office doesn’t guarantee you’ll find your work BFF.
But without those daily interactions in the hallway or at the watercooler it’s that much more difficult to have those moments of connection we may have previously taken for granted and yet, are often the basis for friendship.
Companies are finally beginning to recognize the importance of addressing the need for real-life interactions.
It’s not easy.
Post-COVID it requires greater intentionality and at times, some creativity.
At Salesforce this translated into the creation of the Trailblazer Ranch
The company plans to use this property located 70 miles south of San Francisco to onboard new hires and have off-site team meetings for social bonding and leadership training,
The experience is intended to be a combination of work and training with wellness activities such as yoga and hiking.
The space creates the perfect opportunity to strengthen connections and build the sort of lasting friendships that have been shown to increase both job satisfaction and company loyalty.
But you don’t have to be a tech billionaire to help your people build more meaningful working relationships.
Teams with a smaller budget can plan intentional, low-cost, in-person events on a regular basis (keeping individual COVID and other requirements in mind).
For dispersed teams where in-person gatherings aren’t possible, companies are finding ways to encourage more personal connections virtually.
This includes virtual coffees and/or happy hours, planned 1:1 meetings for intentional watercooler moments, company book clubs, etc.
What’s most important is creating the opportunity for people to connect in ways that match their needs.
As we move into an increasingly virtual world it may seem like your staff are okay, but on a deeper biological level, they may not feel that way.
Our emotional responses to loneliness are part of our evolution.
Our ancestors needed each other to survive.
And despite or because of how much we’ve evolved, in some ways we all still do.
RECOMMENDED LISTENS, READS And other interesting things
COMIC: Finding peace with singlehood in a society that wants everyone to partner up:
A comic about finding peace with singlehood.
Curiosity, Not Coding: 6 Skills Leaders Need In the Digital Age:
“Leaders who set out to reshape their companies to compete in a fast-evolving digital world often come to a daunting realization: To transform their organizations, they must first transform themselves.’
It’s Your Friends Who Break Your Heart:
It’s not wholly natural, this business of making our own tribes. And it hardly seems conducive to human thriving. The percentage of Americans who say they don’t have a single close friend has quadrupled since 1990, according to the Survey Center on American Life.
The Lighter Side of Listening