“If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.”
We spend more time at work than we do at home yet for some of us, the workplace can be the most loneliest place to be. Research conducted by Mind and totaljobs has shown that more than 60% of employees in the UK have felt lonely at work. Workplace loneliness is real.
I definitely fall into that 60% but who is to blame? Is it a lack of social skills? Or the lack of support from the company? Or is it the workload? For me it’s a mixture of them all. I thought I was the only one who felt some type of loneliness at work but according to a survey by the Jo Cox Commission in 2017, nine million people in the UK are affected by workplace loneliness.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my work and the people I interact with daily are some of the nicest people I have ever met. But you see you can be surrounded by all those people and still feel lonely. My usual routine getting into the office is tea first, greet the team then its headphones in and head down. For some us, that is our norm. With large workloads, technology replacing human interaction and the social anxiety from having to do small talk in a professional environment, getting your work done becomes more important than socialising.
My role as a Project Manager means I often work with different groups of people in the company. You’d think I’d have made meaningful connections with people, right? Nope. As a Project Manager I don’t really belong to a team. I’m currently the only Project Manager so if I want to get my work done in time for me to leave at 6, I tune out everything and everyone that isn’t contributing to my productivity. Majority of the interactions I have with people are work related which leaves very little room for more personal connections.
When you feel this isolated, it can lead you to overwork yourself to justify your work loneliness. Unfortunately this often leads to further isolation outside of work. Whenever I’ve been invited for after work drinks I’ve always said no. Partly because I’m tired but also if I can’t talk to them during work hours, what the hell am I going to say to them outside of work?
So I keep to myself.
It’s sad but it’s the reality for a lot of people. Especially those who want to build deeper connections that go beyond the small talk in the kitchen during lunch. It’s strange to say that I suffer from workplace loneliness because I’m not that person outside of work. I wonder why? What is it about the professional environment that causes us to become something we’re not?
Perhaps I’m still adjusting to my environment or perhaps the type of people that I can build deeper connections with just haven’t come around yet. Maybe I just need to stop overthinking and take the plunge to actually accept an invitation to after-work drinks. Or maybe I should spend my lunch time hours eating infant of people and not in front of my laptop. Or perhaps the company will arrange some social activities during work hours. I don’t know but something has to be done.
I’m still finding my feet in this role and company so who knows where things will be in a few months time. Will I still feel this lonely?
March 2017 will mark 1 year since I’ve been at my new job. I wondering if things will be different by then. Let’s hope so.
Do you ever feel alone in the office? What makes you feel that way? How do you deal with it?
Let me know in the comments below!
P.s: Here are a few articles I found interesting regarding work loneliness:
- Work Loneliness And How to Conquer It
- Workplace Loneliness
- It’s OK If You Don’t Have Friends At Work
- Work Friends vs. Real Friends
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