The connection paradox: Why are workplaces more isolating than ever?

How poor work practices turn us all into remote workers.

Dan Schawbel: A third of the global workforce works remote, yet two-thirds of them are disengaged in their job. I worked remote for over eight years and while I get the freedom and flexibility to work when, where and how I want, there's a dark side to working remote that does not get talked about in our culture which is isolation which leads to loneliness and unhappiness because you're not getting the same human contact you would be if you're in a physical office space. And so if you work remote you're much less likely to want a long term career in your company is what we found. And that's because you're not having the human interactions that are required to build strong relationships which lead to not only better business results but more longevity within a company.

Even if you work in a physical office you could feel like a remote worker too. So many of us eat lunch at our desks in isolation. And new research found that if you're in an open office space you're actually less social.

The promise of technology was to connect us all in a meaningful way. Yet, what has really happened is it's become more isolating because we're using the technology instead of having face-to-face conversations. Instead of meeting with someone in the office face-to-face or picking up the phone we look down at our screens. We tap our phones 2,600 times a day. We look at our phones every 12 minutes and even in meetings we're sending five texts.

Up to half of a worker's day is spent using technology over face-to-face. The biggest culprit is email. We're constantly sending and receiving emails and that's led to a lot of misunderstanding. And one face-to-face interaction is more successful than 34 emails exchanged back and forth. So instead of hoping that someone understands you all you have to do is walk a few steps or pick up the phone and explain what you mean and by creating a deeper understanding you build on that relationship and you become more effective in doing your projects.

Up to half of a worker's day is spent using technology over face-to-face. The biggest culprit is email. We're constantly sending and receiving emails and that's led to a lot of misunderstanding. And one face-to-face interaction is more successful than 34 emails exchanged back and forth. So instead of hoping that someone understands you all you have to do is walk a few steps or pick up the phone and explain what you mean and by creating a deeper understanding you build on that relationship and you become more effective in doing your projects. So we need a delicate balance of alone time and time with other people in order to be fully productive and happy and fulfilled in our job.

Why practicing empathy matters, and how VR can help

VR's coolest feature? Boosting compassion and empathy.

Videos
  • Virtual reality fills us with awe and adrenaline — and the technology is only at a crude stage, explains VR filmmaker Danfung Dennis. It's capable of inspiring something much greater in us: empathy.
  • With coming technological advancements in pixel display, haptics, and sound tracking, VR users will finally be able to know what it's like to really take another person's perspective. Empathy is inherent in humans (and other animal species), but just as it can be squashed, it must be practiced in order to develop.
  • "This ability to improve ourselves to become a more empathetic and compassionate society is what I hope we will use this technology for," Dennis says.
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Why being busy is a modern sickness

We have to practice doing nothing more often.

Photo: Shutterstock
Personal Growth
  • Constantly being busy is neurologically taxing and emotionally draining.
  • In his new book, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes that you're doing a disservice to others by always being busy.
  • Busyness is often an excuse for the discomfort of being alone with your own thoughts.
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Study: 50% of people pursuing science careers in academia will drop out after 5 years

That's a sharp increase from the 1960s when it took the same share of scientists an average of 35 years to drop out of academia.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • The study tracked the careers of more than 100,000 scientists over 50 years.
  • The results showed career lifespans are shrinking, and fewer scientists are getting credited as the lead author on scientific papers.
  • Scientists are still pursuing careers in the private sector, however there are key differences between research conducted in academia and industry.
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