Loneliness at work

Exploring the extent of loneliness at work since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our report, Loneliness at work, explores the extent of loneliness at work in the UK and whether different groups are impacted differently.

We consider how changes at work since the Covid-19 pandemic may have affected people, particularly the shift towards more home and hybrid working. The report draws on existing literature and employee action on loneliness, and a unique population-wide survey of workers’ experiences of loneliness and relationships at work.

This research was undertaken for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities. The APPG exists to bring focus and action to the issues of loneliness across UK communities and is supported by the British Red Cross and the Campaign to End Loneliness.

Key findings

  • More than one-in-ten workers often or always experience aspects of loneliness at work, while nearly half of workers feel lonely some of the time.
  • Disabled workers and those with long-term health conditions affecting their day-to-day lives are more likely to report general loneliness than those without (24%, compared to 9%).
  • Workers from minoritised ethnic groups are more likely to feel that they often or always have no one to talk to at work (13%, compared to 9%) than white workers. They also feel that their colleagues are like strangers to them (37% of workers from minoritised ethnic groups, compared to 27% of white workers.)
  • Senior managers report higher levels of general loneliness – 32% of senior managers are often or always lonely, which is nearly twice the average, and are also more likely to feel that their colleagues are like strangers.
  • Contact with colleagues is not enough to prevent loneliness and home workers are not lonelier than those working onsite. However, 84% of onsite workers agree they feel close to their colleagues, compared to only 44% homeworkers.
  • Changes in working location during the Covid-19 restrictions led to improved relationships for many.

Our recommendations

Our findings suggest there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution to loneliness at work. Employers need to listen to what their workers want and ensure that their workplace cultures are designed to respect and support their colleagues’ relationship needs.

Action on loneliness at work is vital, not just for the wellbeing of individual workers, but also for our wider economy. The evidence is clear that lonely workforces are less productive, whereas more connected workforces are better able to weather challenges.

We recommend action in four key areas:

1. Help employers better understand how loneliness affects their workers and take meaningful action. The government should actively support employers to address loneliness through meeting up, stronger communications, better collection and sharing of best practice and improved data.

2. Address loneliness among managers and support them to build connections with and among their teams. Employers, government, and professional bodies should develop and promote training for employers.

3. Support minoritised communities to feel a greater sense of belonging at work. This should involve addressing workplace discrimination towards workers from minoritised ethnic groups and disabled workers.

4. Ensure home, onsite, and hybrid workers are supported to develop and maintain work relationships. Government communications should be clear that there is no simple link between home working and loneliness at work.

See our detailed recommendations in our Loneliness at work report.


For further information on this report, contact William Wall, Policy and Public affairs officer: williamwall@redcross.org.uk