Hybrid working, as we know, has become the new norm and although two years have passed since the onset of the pandemic, finding a working pattern that promotes healthy wellbeing is still a hot topic.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to shine a spotlight on this year’s theme of ‘loneliness’ and how you can begin noticing to help anyone showing signs of loneliness in your team.

Looking at how people have adjusted to remote working, 57% of the UK adult population working from home say they are happier because of the flexibility homeworking offers, according to current data by Home Office Life. Equally, 60% said they feel less connected to colleagues.

Hybrid working can exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Most of us will have experienced what the research tells us – that the social element of being around others in the office is important to creating a sense of belonging and community.

However, loneliness is not always exclusive to a lack of physically being around others, or to serious life events like bereavement or personal loss. Often it affects high flying career professionals and people in social office circles too. It is important to remember that loneliness is subjective and what may trigger it can look different from person to person.

Loneliness can be described as a state of mind or feeling of isolation because of any experience. In some cases, it leads to emotional withdrawal, disrupted sleep, and can affect both physical wellbeing and productivity at work.

Spotting Signs of Loneliness

It takes immense courage to vocalize feelings of loneliness to your employer, and not everybody will feel comfortable speaking up, especially at work where addressing personal topics can feel alienating.

Spotting signs of loneliness is usually easier when you are face-to-face with your colleagues. For example, being able to notice social cues such as tense or nervous body language, or facial expressions that signal a colleague who could need support.

The Art of Noticing

It is key to think about how managers might spot signs of loneliness in a hybrid working world where informal human connection with their team is limited.

Cappfinity’s Talent Practice specialise in leadership development on how to be aware of what is going on for colleagues virtually. One technique is ‘The Art of Noticing’. This starts with becoming aware of our own assumptions and how they might limit us from really ‘seeing’ others and connecting on a human level.

Secondly, being self-aware of how we react to smaller interactions with colleagues throughout the day as well as the big conversations.  This could be an exchange of messages on Teams, asking how a colleague is feeling today, or an informal five-minute chat at the end of a team meeting.

These smaller interactions can help build trust with peers. As a result of trust, people are more likely to feel safe in their team environment and to speak up about wellbeing.

Lastly, noticing any changes in a colleague’s communication and behavior styles. The simple act of noticing can have a powerful effect with making people feel they are valued. It is often easier for us to assume, but we cannot always know what is really going on for somebody until we are brave enough to ask the question.

You can find out more about the art of noticing in a hybrid setting by contacting Cappfinity’s Talent Practice at Development@cappfinity.com