Government statistics suggest that more Canadians than ever are working from home and the ensuing loss of social contact can result in loneliness and depression. Statistics from 2016 suggests 2.5 million Canadians work from home and make up 12.6 per cent of the work force.
Young Canadians already spend almost five hours a day online, according to a report from Media Technology Monitor and that may mean less time spent in face-to-face interactions.
Not enough human connection flagged
“We(already) don’t get enough human connection or interaction, and workplaces did provide that for us,” says Jennier Moss, an author and member of the UN’s Workplace Happiness Group. “When you go into work, yes, you ran risks because you might run into someone who would create stress. But for the most part, you have a really great friend at work that would cheer you up or lift you up when you’re feeling down. And that’s really important to our own humanity, to have those connections.”
Loneliness called a global health problem
Moss says loneliness is a global problem. She notes that the U.K. has created a cabinet minister for loneliness and the U.S. surgeon general called loneliness epidemic saying it has a negative effect on people’s longevity equivalent to their smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Moss says employers can mitigate loneliness by giving remote workers opportunities to come in and interact with people in the office. And employees can take steps themselves.
“It’s important for us to create digital relationships, but then connect to offline relationships,” says Moss. “So, maybe it’s at a co-working space or creating opportunities outside of our work day that make sure that we’re not just staying inside and that work and home aren’t so interconnected and integrated that we stop building those important relationships that are very important to our health.”
Jennifer Moss says working from home adds to the loneliness already created by the large amount of time Canadians spend online.Listen