Experiencing Isolation from Your Coworkers? You Are Not Alone

By SRAI News posted 09-10-2020 10:44 AM


Experiencing Isolation from Your Coworkers? You Are Not Alone

We recently surveyed Research Administrators across the country and discovered some interesting facts in response to the “new, work from home normal.”  In fact, out of 170 respondents, 49% felt more isolated from their coworkers as a result of working remotely. Some are missing the water cooler chats, coffee breaks, and luncheons that further develop working relationships. This compared to 19% that felt closer and 34% that felt no impact on their working relationships.  Other survey respondents felt they would rather have the extra time saved to get their work done and really appreciate not having the distractions at work.

How do you balance workload along with a feeling of isolation from your coworkers, especially if you are one that is missing that in-person interaction with others? 

To combat this isolation on a personal level, make sure you are taking care of your personal and mental health. So many of us are juggling multiple responsibilities simply because we are home. Be sure you are getting plenty of sleep, good nutrition, exercise, and meditation time and are engaging in hobbies that invigorate you. 

Additionally, try to take those breaks you used to take while in the office. Consider taking a virtual coffee or walking break with an office buddy you used to take breaks with. To have something to look forward to, consider a reoccurring break in your calendar. Reach out to a colleague you admire and invite them to a virtual coffee chat…see where it takes you.

Lastly, get involved virtually. Is there a cross-functional team at work that you volunteer with? If not, perhaps you can join one. This will introduce you to new colleagues and expand your network. Consider keeping a contact list to ping colleagues that you have not touched base within a while. Reaching out can do good things for your soul and career.

If you are in a leadership position, perhaps you could consider the following:

  1. Plan an optional social hour or coffee chat. Provide a space to enable employees to share their lives during COVID or perhaps throw a “get to know you” mixer to create cross-functional opportunities.
  2. Check in on your employees, be observant, and pay attention to the non-verbal cues of your employees via video-chat or phone call. Provide a safe space for them to discuss challenges and victories.
  3. Remember that organizational growth depends on understanding and supporting its historical knowledge; allow this to continue by providing opportunities for staff to share and key in on specific scenarios and how the organization handled them – this will allow that transfer of shared knowledge in an active way.
  4. As an organization, consider doing town halls or other ongoing events that employees can attend to find out more about what the organization is doing and to engage with the company mission. Feeling connected to the overall organization is a key component to employee health and satisfaction.
Please see the following link for more information if you have not yet participated:

Authored by

kakioka.png Katrina Akioka, Research Administrator, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center tcaban.png Theresa R. Caban, CRA, Manager Clinical Trials & Industry Contracts, Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation