“While hybrid working is considered the ‘new normal’, the balance of home vs office working is still likely to be a source of loneliness for many. Some may find remote working suits them well, offering greater autonomy over their working environment and schedule, making it easier to manage their mental health. But others who don’t have the option to be in the office can feel isolated and may worry that they are missing out on important meeting conversations or in-person interactions with coworkers. 

Tackling loneliness is complex, however, there is a range of ways HR leaders can optimise company culture to address loneliness in the workplace. Firstly, dedicated time must be given to workers to socialise. In the era of remote or hybrid working, face-to-face contact and ‘water cooler moments’ have fallen by the way-side, which are crucial to building and nurturing networks and personal relationships. Ensure that the team is encouraged to take regular breaks and create groups on collaboration and instant messaging platforms where people can discuss shared interests. 

Secondly, support often starts with a conversation. HR leaders must continue to encourage open dialogue about loneliness and its impacts on mental health. The benefits associated with these conversations allow us to better cope with challenges and boost resilience. This will help to reduce the loneliness that many employees might be feeling. 

HR teams must be commended for how they have demonstrated support and care over the past two years; employee wellbeing has truly risen to the top of the agenda. Looking ahead, employers must continue to meet the mental healthcare needs of the workforce. By providing a suite of comprehensive solutions which cover the full spectrum of conditions that are supported at the team level and role modelled by leaders, HR can help mitigate the lagging mental health impacts of the pandemic, including employee loneliness. A workforce with stronger mental wellbeing is more likely to have stronger morale, greater productivity, and reduced sick leave and staff churn.”