The Workplace of the Future Is Lonely as Hell

Changes in the way we work are making people lonely. Here’s how companies and employees alike can keep it from getting out of control.

Deanna Pai
Forge
Published in
7 min readJan 9, 2019

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Credit: moodboard/Cultura/Getty

This year, I spent a few months working at the friendliest company I’ve ever encountered.

There was an office happy hour every Friday afternoon. One day, some hero set up a hot chocolate bar, complete with crushed candy canes and marshmallows. Employees were encouraged to send one another thank-you notes around Thanksgiving. I sent out zero, because I didn’t think people would actually participate, but then I received four.

It was a far cry from the deserted, low-morale workplaces of my past gigs. And my eventual return to full-time freelancing — I was only there to cover someone’s maternity leave — was bleak in comparison. Now, some days, the extent of my social interaction consists of two sentences: “Large single-origin drip, please,” and “Would you mind watching my stuff for a sec while I find the bathroom?” Sure, I text friends and talk on the phone, but they don’t provide the same daily social interaction as actual co-workers. And though I, an introvert, generally prefer no people over people, I still get lonely by Wednesday of each week.

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Deanna Pai
Forge
Writer for

I’m a writer and editor in New York City. You can find my work in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, New York Magazine, and beyond.