Jon Levy: Why A Sense Of Belonging Is Essential To The Well Being Of People Who Work Remotely

The key benefits of working remotely are clear to all of us. Not having to commute into an office every day frees us up to get more sleep, spend more time with family & get in regular work-outs in. And left alone most of the day – separate from attending a lot of ZOOM calls – we can focus on our work & be more productive.

While all this sounds great, there are some hidden downsides of working remotely that are essential for workers & managers alike to understand. And much of them have to do with the science which shows human beings are hard-wired to thrive by connecting frequently with other people face-to-face. And that means the loss of true connection we get during the 8-10 hours we work alone each day has the potential to do us long term harm.

Our guest for this episode is Jon Levy. He’s a behavioral scientist whose new book, “You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Relationships” is a New York TimesWall Street Journal & USA Today bestseller.

Brigham Young research has found that the most important predictor of living a long life is “social integration” – meaning how many people we connect with every day. And a brand-new University of Chicago study confirms it’s the routine interactions we have with many people, including with our work colleagues, the dry cleaner, people at yoga class, etcetera that contribute to human well-being. The interesting conclusion is that people who have frequent interactions with others throughout the day – even when these experiences are especially brief or inconsequential – experience far less depression & better mental health.

As you’ll hear Jon say in this episode, the “great super power” for people working on remote teams is the sense that they belong & matter personally. Consequently, it’s absolutely essential that workplace managers are intentional is fostering that “belonging.” And much of the discussion features highly informed ways of accomplishing this.

Another great challenge of working remotely is our compromised ability to build meaningful connections with people when we see them less frequently or not at all. And Jon has unique perspective on how we might achieve this both personally & professionally. He’s famous for creating what he calls “influencer dinners.” As part of an unusual social experiment, he began inviting people from widely disparate backgrounds to his home for dinners. But the twist was that those whom he invited did all the cooking – & they didn’t learn anyone else’s identity or occupation until they sat down to eat. And the goal of these gatherings, was not to network, but to build meaningful & lasting relationships

We cover a lot of ground in this episode & the insight you’ll hear will prove invaluable especially if you dream of working remotely most of the time or manage a remote working team.

By Mark C. Crowley

Mark C. Crowley is the author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century which has been taught in 11 American universities. He is a global speaker, leadership consultant and thought leader on the topics of workplace culture and employee engagement.