It's not often a business will actively encourage you to pull a sickie or skip work, but that's exactly what is happening on Friday 10 June, which marks 'Pull a Sickie, Make More Friends' day.
It follows research conducted by class and experience discovery company, Wonderush, which found that one in five Londoners claim they don't have a single good friend.
The study also found that a quarter of the 2,000 Londoners surveyed haven't made a friend since secondary school. And more than two thirds (64%) say they regularly feel lonely, with a poor work-life balance blamed.
In order to highlight the effect of a negative work-life balance has on workers, Wonderush is encouraging people to pull a sickie - no really, it's not even recommending you book the day off - and take part in a range of events in order to make some friends. Wonderush is laying on a number classes and experiences including stand-up comedy lessons, cooking classes, a laughter ‘play’ shop, and more.
But only 30 people will be chosen to take part. After registering your interest, 30 random participants will be emailed with a secret location to avoid the chance of bosses finding out, and will also be met by a confidence expert that specialises in helping people manage their work and social lives.
When asked what contributed to their loneliness, a busy work schedule was cited as the main cause, with 65% stating they didn’t have the time to socialise as a result of their job. 42% said they felt that living in London contributed to their isolation.
When broken down, the age demographic most affected by loneliness according to the results are those between the ages of 25-34, with more than half, 54%, of respondents in that age group saying they regularly experienced the feeling. 34-45 year olds were the second-most affected at 43%, while those between the ages of 18-24 were the least affected, with 15% saying they felt lonely.
Nelson Sivalingam, founder of Wonderush, said: “The recent news on loneliness being a serious social and health issue is only reinforced by the results of the survey we commissioned. It’s easy to focus on work and your career, only to find no time to enjoy the company of others – which is why we wanted to do something as drastic as give people an opportunity to pull a sickie to make more friends.
“If people feel like they would like to meet new people and make new friends, then our initiative will provide a fun and easy way for them to do so. It’s easier to talk to others and make friends while engaged in activities, and by encouraging people to skive work, we want to make the wider point that we all need to balance work with ensuring we have a life, too. Nobody on their death bed says they wish they would have spent more time at work.”