Airbnb CEO says loneliness is the biggest problem with remote work

Bad. But the latest take has some interesting weight behind it. Telework will fuel a new crisis: loneliness.

“There is a future where you never leave your house and after COVID is over, the most dangerous thing will be loneliness,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told a conference. Lesbians Who Tech, according to a tweet from communications specialist Brooke Hammerling.

Chesky might be right.

Settling into a new role, especially in a new city, in this new era of hybrid working has been a little weird. I have two choices. I can go to the office and hope that the mood is good and that my colleagues have had the same idea. Or I can work from home without talking to anyone but my cat. And some days work is lonely, even when I go to the office.

The funny thing is that I actually work with one of my best friends.

Unfortunately, we cannot work together in person as much as I would like. I’m lucky if I see her at least once a week in the office, when we both attend our weekly team meeting. On the days in between, our communication is limited to Slack and text, sub-tweets and DMs, which is a great way to share memes but doesn’t get quite the same level of satisfaction as texting each other back. ideas or walking to disturb her. in person.

I can’t speak for my friend, but I want to disagree with Chesky that people will never leave their homes in the future, it all depends on what future we’re talking about. But the sense of loneliness that has set in amid the pandemic haze and the rise of remote working cannot be denied.

Even before the pandemic, isolation and loneliness were becoming major public health concerns, according to the American Psychological Association. There is evidence to support this worry has only increased, like many ailments, over the past couple of years.

“The pandemic appears to have increased loneliness,” writes Mareike Ernst, PhD, of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany, co-author of an APA study on pandemic loneliness. Since loneliness poses a risk of premature mortality and mental and physical health, it must be closely monitored. Loneliness should be a priority in large-scale research projects aimed at studying the health outcomes of the pandemic.

When the lens is turned to the workplace, this increased loneliness can have a major impact on the happiness and overall well-being of workers.

According to a study of remote journalists conducted by organizational psychologist Lynn Holdsworth before the pandemic.

The study, published in 2003, highlights all the benefits we now recognize in real time: better work-life balance, flexibility, less time spent commuting, increased productivity, increased skill base for organizations, etc.

But the negative impacts are just as well documented. There is a blurring of boundaries, a lack of support and, of course, social isolation, to name a few.

Throughout the pandemic, loneliness has proven one of the biggest challenges remote workers face that hinders their ability to do their job.

“The intersection between loneliness and burnout has a negative impact on worker productivity. Lone workers are twice as likely to miss a day of work due to illness and five times as likely to be absent from work due to stress, while 12% of lone workers say they think their work is of lower quality than it should be, according to a study by Cigna,” reads the JLL blog. “Lone workers also say they think about quitting their job more than twice as often as non-lone workers.”

Flore Pradère, JLL’s research director on global work dynamics, says working from home for long periods of time led employees to feel disconnected, which had a negative impact on their social health.

I don’t know if Chesky is actually arguing for a return to the office – he’s supported remote working and made Airbnb offices permanently remote – but it seems to me (and my cat) that’s as good an argument as any. anyone else to come into the office tomorrow. I hope my best friend will join me.

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