London has a reputation for being an unfriendly city, but in a new survey of UK employees, it’s been identified as the loneliest place to work in the country.
Nearly three in five of those surveyed said having a ‘work best friend’ made their job more enjoyable, but almost half (47%) of workers in London said they didn’t actually have one – twice the percentage of respondents in Scotland who said the same. That’s despite nearly a fifth of London workers admitting to actively seeking out friends in the workplace.
Perhaps predictably, our overall sense of loneliness has only grown with remote working during the pandemic, as after-work drinks have morphed into awkward Zoom calls – inevitably making it harder to socialise with our colleagues.
In 2021, 40% of UK employees said they didn’t have friends in the workplace, a rise from 37% in 2017. And if you’ve not got on board with the ‘virtual’ work drinks thing (let’s face it, raising a glass to a computer screen still feels odd), you’re not alone – 36% of people admitted to not being big fans either.
Things have been harder still for new employees – 5% said they had struggled to make friends starting a job during the pandemic, rising to 8% in London.
Why do employers need to concern themselves with these numbers? Well, findings suggest that having good friends at work doesn’t just affect our happiness, but how well we do our job – 22% of employees said it made them feel more productive, 21% more creative, while 21% said a ‘work best friend’ has been key to supporting them through personal or professional issues.
Meaningful friendships at work also impact whether someone becomes a flight risk – 12% said they would be less likely to leave a job if they had a work friend. And if that’s not motivation for our bosses to organise a Thursday night trip to the pub or order a new sofa for the office breakout area, we don’t know what is.