Unhappy at Work? It Could Be Physical Isolation.
Today, let's discuss the impact of physical isolation in the workplace.
We're not talking about privacy, where you enjoy the quiet or need the separation to focus. Physical isolation happens when you would prefer to be around others-to be more included-but aren't.
Physical isolation can take many forms:
an end office with little foot traffic, where your default method of communication is the oft misunderstood email;
a cubicle far from your team, such that you're missing key, impromptu discussions;
working a different shift or different hours than your cohort; and
In these scenarios, some might feel mild loneliness. Other ruminate about the tone of an email or being left out of a bonding event. It sucks. Isolation can magnify existing feelings of resentment, frustration, and fear of missing out. At it's worst, it erodes trust.
Whether you feel included or isolated informs how you frame and interpret communications. When you don't sit near and hardly see your colleagues, what latitude do you give them? How guarded do you feel? A co-worker's offhanded remark might land as amused curiosity when you have camaraderie, and judgement if you don't.
(Genesis, where is this going?)
Okay. It's literally my job to help folks tackle workplace tension. I noticed that people are quick to point out slights, but require prodding to identify what they need to feel safe.
Are you unhappy at work? When you're assessing your contentedness, don't forget to factor in your workspace location and proximity relationships. Might this be why you feel left out? Mistrustful? Is it that all of your colleagues are rude? (Could be.) Or do you just not know each other? Perhaps there's a mismatch between your desire to be included and your physical opportunities to do so. This tension is real, but may not necessarily be someone's "fault."
People feel isolated at work for dozens of reasons, from cultural issues, to leadership and office culture. (Really? Everyone plays golf?!). But if the main issue is physical isolation, that's good news. There's a remedy that's inexpensive and effective. Move. Maybe you give up a nicer office or have to push HR for months. But picture yourself smiling when you leave the office, thinking about your colleague's joke.
It's worth it.