Working Alone Doesn’t Have to Mean You Are Alone

Human beings crave interaction from the moment we are brought into the world. Countless studies have been done on the importance of touch, speech, and even eye contact in early childhood development. While such contact is less biologically essential as we finish our physical development and become adults, it continues to play a vital role in our happiness and overall life satisfaction.

Considering the high percentage of the average North American’s waking hours spent at work, the need for human contact cannot generally be fulfilled completely through interactions with family and friends. Many of us do not need to work very hard to find human contact at work. We work in teams or in cubicle environments and often wish that we could have less human contact in our working days. However, for some, finding such interaction takes more effort.

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the American Public Media show, Marketplace, and was introduced to the phenomenon of “YouTube Truckers.” Driving huge loads of freight across the country can be a fascinating job but it can also be a very lonely one. The radio program interviews Terry Martindale, the woman who started this trend – a trucker who loved her work but was discouraged by the lack of the professional network she had been accustomed to in an office environment.

Terry Martindale began by filming herself in her truck bantering with the camera as she would with a real person. She then put a 10 minute video clip up on YouTube and a conversation began in the comments section. Before long the YouTube Trucking network was born. So far dozens of truckers from all over the world have followed in Martindale’s footsteps making their own videos and commenting on the videos of other truckers. The YouTube Trucking website compiles a list of the truckers who have made videos and hosts a web forum for truckers to communicate with each other about everything from avoiding criminals when driving through dangerous parts of the country to their favorite beers.

The success of this endeavor highlights the importance of human contact at work and also serves as a fantastic example of how the combination of technology and ingenuity can help workers overcome the perils of an isolated work environment.

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