Feeling lonely at work can take years off your life

WCPOPublished: October 11, 2017
Published: October 11, 2017

In some ways, American adults in 2017 are more connected than they have ever been. The proliferation of smartphones means many of us live with 24/7 access to social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, allowing us to stay updated on our friends' and family members' lives every hour of the day. However, according to a study performed by the AARP, that virtual connection doesn't tend to translate to emotional fulfillment. Over 40 percent of adults in the United States report feeling lonely and isolated; few have a close confidante in their lives; and many feel alienated in their workplaces.  "Loneliness is very big these days," Shantel Thomas, a clinical counselor, said. "We're having a lot of people that are coming in and talking about not having friends or not getting along with people at work or just being alone at home and feeling very sad and depressed about that." The effects of this depression cut into workers' productivity and can even shorten their lifespans, according to the medical journal PLOS Medicine. Chronic stress can have similar health effects to long-term smoking. No individual person or entity can cure what the Harvard Business Review called "an epidemic of loneliness," but media marketing agency Empower Media hopes to provide a more connected, social workplace experience to its 160 Cincinnati employees through an open office design.

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