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Collaborative Workspaces Combat Loneliness and Make for Happier Employees

Study conducted to understand different factors that bring fulfillment to work
By: Sophia Connolly – Well Defined

Selina, a lifestyle and experiential hospitality brand, and #WorkAnywhere, non-profit, global advocacy movement, announced results from their first Social Connection in Remote Work (SCRW) research study, which found co-working spaces are the most socially fulfilling work locations in the modern workforce. The study was conducted to understand the factors contributing to social fulfillment at work and to identify drivers of loneliness for remote workers.

Led by researchers Constance Hadley, Ph.D. and MBA, of Boston University and Sarah Wright, Ph.D., of the University of Canterbury, the study collected and analyzed data focused on feelings towards remote work and loneliness from 1,057 remote workers who had experienced co-working spaces to effectively compare them against home and the office.

Key findings include:

  • There is a link between working from home and loneliness:
    • ‘Most lonely’ employees spend more time working from home (77.2 percent) than ‘least lonely’ employees (64 percent).
    • ‘Home’ ranks lowest when employees rate how socially fulfilling they find their primary work location.
  • Co-working spaces were reported as the most socially fulfilling work locations, even more than offices:
    • 42 percent of all respondents said they feel most socially fulfilled and connected to other people in ‘third spaces’ compared to 33 percent ‘in office’ and 26 percent ‘at home’.
    •  When asked which ‘third space’ they feel most socially fulfilled and connected to other people, an overwhelming majority of 60 percent  said ‘co-working spaces.’
  •  Workers yearn to make social connections throughout the workday:
    •  68 percent of respondents believe making social connections during the workday is important.
    • 59.7 percent of respondents want to make stronger personal connections with neighbors and people in the community.

“Organizations are struggling with how to create a sense of belonging to combat employee loneliness and disconnection,” says Hadley. “This research examines what steps organizations, policymakers, and workers can take post-pandemic to bolster social connectivity and wellbeing at work, no matter where it is conducted. Importantly, the results pertain to not just organizational employees but also to the large numbers of contractors and freelancers who contribute to our global economy.”

In a separate guest survey conducted by Selina, results indicated approximately 65 percent of surveyed guests are hybrid or remote workers, with a majority traveling alone. To ensure guests feel socially fulfilled throughout their stay, Selina offers a variety of features to foster connection and promote networking, including multiple open-floor workspaces and private meeting rooms, restaurants and bars, pop-up events, tours and seminars, rentable artist studios, common kitchens, onsite wellness studios, and more. #WorkAnywhere approached Selina to partner on this research study due to this commitment.

“Since our founding, Selina has designed its accommodations to foster connections between adventurous professionals and create unique and collaborative spaces for today’s digital nomads,” says Rafi Museri, CEO. “We partnered with #WorkAnywhere on the SCRW survey to shed light on the important issue of loneliness amongst remote workers and reinforce the importance of having dedicated environments and programs to promote togetherness. Remote work does not have to be isolating, and the results of our survey reinforce the benefits to health, wellbeing, and overall mood can result from working alongside others in alternative environments.”

According to Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness is estimated to shorten one’s lifespan by up to 15 years and can cause serious illnesses including strokes, heart disease, dementia, and more. It also impacts attitudes towards work, and the SCRW study found the ‘most lonely’ employees think about leaving their job more often than the ‘least lonely’ employees.

“After two years of lockdowns and social distancing, many people associate remote work with isolation and disconnection,” says Ben Marks, founder and CEO of #WorkAnywhere. ”Those advocating for a widespread return to office have cited loneliness as a key reason. This study was launched to answer this crucial question with hard data, and we hope it will help policymakers and businesses protect and empower workers.”

Thank you Well Defined.

By Sophia Connolly: Sophia is an intern for Well Defined. She is passionate about journalism and has focused on writing stories covering adoption, sports, and other topics as a staff writer and copy editor for her high school yearbook staff. She has achieved several high school journalism awards for her writing and has aspirations for a successful professional writing career.