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Gen Z and Remote Employees are the Loneliest at Work

According to the Pew Research Center, around 22 million people, or 14% of the U.S. population, currently work from home on a permanent basis. Around half of respondents (53%) from this survey say that the remote conditions make them feel less connected to their coworkers, but this is offset by an improved work-life balance and stronger impetus to meet deadlines.  

In 2024, are employers embracing the work-life balance gains of remote employment, or is productivity coming at the cost of isolation? To find out, Ringover has conducted a survey of 1,154 U.S. adults to see how their working arrangements affect their interactions with others.  

Whether working in the office or remote, isolation is a real issue for employees of all ages in 2024. Two-thirds of participants (67%) in Ringover’s survey say they “sometimes” or “often” feel lonely at work. Further, 69.4% of men say they experience feelings of isolation—slightly more than women (65%).  

Respondents are less likely to feel alone at work when someone else is at home, with 57.6% saying they feel isolated with another person working in the same household, compared to 74.4% of people who work from home alone. Most (86%) say they work alone. This reflects a growing demographic change in America as more than a quarter of U.S. households in 2020 (27.6%) had just one resident.  

Regardless of the working arrangement, most workers are feeling isolated. However, while remote working comes with proven benefits, from increased productivity to stronger in-work autonomy, remote workers are also the most prone to suffering from work loneliness. In fact, remote workers report “often” suffering from loneliness 98% more of the time when compared to office workers, and 179% more frequently than hybrid workers.  

Although loneliness is a problem irrespective of working arrangements, the data shows that remote workers are the most vulnerable, with 93.4% saying they have suffered anywhere from “rarely” to “often” feeling lonely. This is compared to 93.1% of hybrid workers and 83.9% of office workers.  

The research also reveals a generation gap between feelings of isolation among workers. The youngest, Gen Z, are most likely to feel lonely, with 79.4% of 18 to 26-year-olds claiming this is the case at least sometimes. Many from Gen Z found themselves entering the workforce during the early 2020s, and often feel disillusioned with work after such a turbulent start to their careers.  

While people from all generations say they feel isolated at work at least sometimes, it seems that the problem is most likely to impact those under 40 years old. More than half (65.2%) of millennials say they feel lonely sometimes or often. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that mental health conditions are on the rise among young people, with one in three teens now impacted.  

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