Tahora aims to build connections between colleagues based on out-of-office interests, and prompts them to meet or chat.
Loneliness and remote working:
According to market researcher Kadence, two-thirds of UK and US workers (67%) said that working from home has made it harder to make friends and maintain connections with colleagues, and almost three quarters (71%) said their colleagues feel more distant emotionally.
Speaking to HR magazine, Ben Towers, co-founder of Tahora, said the hybrid working communications used throughout the pandemic were leaving employees feeling burned out.
He said: “At the moment, a lot of social activity among colleagues is limited to work platforms like Teams. That adds to employees’ sense of burnout, as part of the notification overload; there’s no benefit in that social engagement, because you’re not able to really be you.
“With hybrid working, when you go into the office, you go intending to connect with people and have that social experience.
“When you work from home, you may be wanting to get your head down, or stay local, not have to spend time on the commute.
“Tahora is based on the idea of building connections and community in both parts simultaneously.”
Even before the pandemic, in 2019, Harvard Business Review found a feeling of belonging at the company led to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.
Younger workers, who are less likely to have families and entrenched social connections, were particularly likely to suffer from lack of social connection in the office.
Four in five (81%) said they would feel more isolated without time in the office, and many said as a result they would enjoy their job less (59%) and find it harder to concentrate (63%).
Towers said that by building social connections related to all aspects of their daily lives, people make themselves less vulnerable to mental health issues.
He added: “It’s all about prevention. When we launch within companies, we don’t launch as a mental health app. That only engages the few who are actively seeking support.”
Stuart Templeton, head of UK at messaging platform Slack, told HR magazine that employers should aim to engage and check-in regularly with employees to tackle loneliness.
He said: “One way of achieving this could be setting up asynchronous meetings or walks and talks. That way, managers avoid proximity bias too - a phenomenon whereby people in the office are inherently favoured over those working remotely.
“Organisations should also look towards technology to bridge the gap between the office and those who are remote. This can reinforce a transparent and flat culture, which helps employees feel included and aligned with the business as a whole.”