Harvard Business Review recently published this article highlighting the correlation between loneliness and burnout in the workplace, noting that obesity reduces life longevity by 20%, drinking by 30% and smoking by 50% whereas loneliness reduces longevity by a whopping 70%. The article goes on to say loneliness can cause both emotional and physical pain, which negatively impacts productivity and engagement at work.

It seems as if digital communication is playing a factor in the rise in loneliness across the US, now more than ever before. This begs the question of how we can reverse the process and utilize digital communication to accomplish just the opposite: to help people feel more connected, seen, heard and appreciated.

At Altia Systems, video camera systems are our bread and butter. We’ve witnessed firsthand how companies reap the benefits of opting to use video collaboration over a phone call for formal meetings, internal chats, brainstorms, etc. firsthand. Video helps employees establish more meaningful connections and relationships with acquaintances and peers. This naturally helps to fight loneliness since it mimics face to face communication regardless of employees’ physical location. The good news is that video collaboration is on the rise, which means that this solution is already kicking into high gear.

A second tool that can effectively fight loneliness and workplace burnout is the introduction of a workplace culture platform that allows employees to communicate and build relationships with one another across departments and physical office locations. Company culture has become a hot topic in recent years and with good reason! 19% of executives claim that new hires (particularly millennials) leave companies because they don’t align with the organization’s culture. Adopting this type of platform that helps drive internal culture initiatives will help employees connect with others in the organization whether they work alone or in a large office building. This then helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Lastly, digital communication is a great way to help people locate and connect with others who have shared hobbies and interests. This applies well to a workplace setting since many organizations have their own sports leagues and recurring meetups or events like happy hours, book clubs, etc. Ultimately, the best way to fight loneliness is to physically surround yourself (or your employees) with other people who you/they genuinely enjoy being with. Bottom line: we should all take advantage of digital communication to help spark interest in and organize these types of in-person interactions.

While the digital era may seem to be causing a rise in loneliness, we have all the tools we need to turn this process around. Utilizing digital communication will help people relate and connect more easily and more often, resulting in a satisfied, productive and engaged workforce.