PODCAST: Why company leaders are taking a stand on loneliness

Disconnected teams are costing businesses money

May 15, 2024

Loneliness is emerging as one of the biggest perils of remote working, with the financial impact to businesses adding up to billions of dollars.

Flexible work patterns and distributed workforces – concepts that were turbocharged by the pandemic – are resulting in a greater disconnect among workers, a growing concern for company leaders.

The U.S. surgeon general estimated in a 2023 report that $154 billion annually is being wiped from companies as a result of absenteeism-related productivity loss. Loneliness and poor mental health is causing workers to withdraw.

In Australia’s State of the Nation report in 2023, participants blamed loneliness on their lack of productivity.

This isolation of colleagues has become a crisis, according to loneliness expert and business mentor Simone Heng.

“What you find in these lonely workplaces where people feel disconnected and unengaged is that they're much more transactional with their employer and their team,” says Heng on a recent episode of JLL’s Perspectives podcast. “So it's much more about, ‘I'm not invested in what my team is trying to achieve and therefore I'm not invested in the larger mission of the organization, I am just here for a salary.’”

During the pandemic when companies wanted to reduce costs, real estate, the second largest cost for any organization, was an easy win, says Nathan Sri, workplace experience lead, JLL Work Dynamics. 

“We’ve got clients that got rid of 60% of their real estate, then ended up with 200 seats for 1,000 people, encouraging people to work remotely,” he says. “What businesses want, what real estate is doing, and what people are ultimately looking for are just not aligned.” 

You can hear Heng and Sri talk more about the scourge of loneliness and its relationship with the workplace on JLL’s Perspectives podcast. (link)

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