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.

Ha Jin on the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai

The 8th century AD was a tough time to be a genius from a poor family in China. Poet and novelist Ha Jin on the tortured life of the legendary drunken poet Li Bai. Also: panpsychism, the value of idleness, and humanities education in America today.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "I knew in the case of Li Bai, I should follow the poems. Every masterpiece by him would be kind of a small crisis…a center for drama in his life."
  • "There are people who want a different kind of fulfillment. Society should be open to that. In the long run, you don't know—maybe those idlers can produce more for the society."
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: the rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Billionaire warlords: Why the future is medieval

The world's next superpower might just resurrect the Middle Ages.

Videos
  • Russia? China? No. The rising world superpower is the billionaire class. Our problem, says Sean McFate, is that we're still thinking in nation states.
  • Nation states have only existed for the last 300-400 years. Before that, wealthy groups – tribes, empires, aristocracies, etc – employed mercenaries to wage private wars.
  • As wealth inequality reaches combustion point, we could land back in the status quo ante of the Middle Ages. Who will our overlords be? Any or all of the 26 ultra-rich billionaires who own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest. What about Fortune 500, which is more powerful than most of the states in the world? Random billionaires, multinational corporations, and the extractive industry may buy armies and wage war on their own terms.
Keep reading Show less