The lingering effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns on mental health and wellbeing have been uncovered by recent polling and an academic study.

Global events company Hyve Group, in collaboration with Professor Barbara Sahakian from the University of Cambridge, has delved into the transformation of our brains during the pandemic and its impact on our working lives. The research emphasises the crucial role of face-to-face professional interactions in rebuilding lost connections.

According to a new poll conducted by Hyve Group, a majority of employees surveyed (54%) have experienced heightened social anxiety in their professional lives since the pandemic, possibly due to prolonged periods of social isolation. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 60% of professionals expressed concerns about the long-term negative impacts of the lockdowns on their mental wellbeing and brain function.
  • A quarter (25%) reported feeling more disengaged with their work post-pandemic, with 15% admitting to “quiet quitting” as a consequence of remote or hybrid working arrangements.
  • 36% viewed work as less important to their overall life compared to before the pandemic.
  • 58% of respondents now socialize less frequently than they did prior to the pandemic, with 52% experiencing increased feelings of loneliness.
  • Meeting in person was deemed most effective for achieving results and building relationships by 49% of participants, while only 18% preferred remote meetings over in-person connections.
  • 54% reported feeling more energized when meeting colleagues, friends, family, or networking in person.

In-person meetings are valuable

These findings are consistent with Professor Barbara Sahakian’s report, which highlights the positive impact of returning to in-person professional events on mental health and wellbeing.

Professor Sahakian commented on the research, stating that the lockdowns had an immediate effect on mental health, cognition, and brain function. She emphasized the importance of social interactions in the development of our brains and their role in maintaining mental wellbeing. Sahakian called for a focus on identifying and facilitating moments that boost engagement, as lack of social interaction can lead to problems in social cognition and mental wellbeing.

Building on these insights, Hyve Group continues to advocate for the significance of in-person interactions in a post-pandemic world, striving to maximize the power of human connections.

Is hybrid the answer?

Mark Shashoua, CEO of Hyve Group, acknowledged the opportunity presented by the pandemic to reassess priorities and values, including the way we work. While recognising the advantages of hybrid working, Shashoua stressed the importance of genuine social interactions at work, stating that people are most inspired when they come together. He highlighted the increased interest in events and the valuable learning, networking, and knowledge sharing opportunities they provide.

As the challenges of the pandemic persist, the study conducted by Hyve Group makes it evident that the effects on mental health and wellbeing have been substantial. However, they are not irreversible. Returning to in-person work has the potential to rebuild lost connections and restore mental health and wellbeing.

Shashoua expressed hope that this research would guide organisations in navigating the post-pandemic landscape and inspire them to prioritize bringing teams back together to build stronger and more resilient communities.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.