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One morning you woke up and things were different. Not hugely different - just ever so slightly. Almost imperceptibly so. You didn't really notice it at first but eventually you felt that something seemed "off". You had got up, had breakfast, brushed your teeth, cycled to work, showered, made a coffee and sat down at your desk and you just sensed it.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you lost one of your favourite toys but found it again months later after having given up on the search. Did you ever get that weird sensation that it was much smaller, maybe less detailed than you remember? Well you're getting that feeling now, the space around you just "feels" smaller.

After a while you notice it. A wall. That wall wasn't there before - you are sure of it. It doesn't actually look new; in fact it doesn't even look out of place but you're positive it wasn't there before.

The next week, while going to another floor in the office to visit a work colleague, you notice another strange thing. One of the office doors isn't there anymore. As far as you recall there used to be another office between those two doors on the far wall, you'd had a meeting there once and you would swear to it. Other people don't seem bothered - "it looks the same to me" they say - and it's not as if there is evidence of some fresh plastering in the space. It just seems, well, smaller.

Over the next few months to a year little things like this happen. You notice, or at least feel, that things are getting smaller. There is less space to move around and even more widely there are less people occupying the space. Even places you've never been before feel significantly more constrained. There are people you haven't spoken in a while, you don't miss these people immediately because they aren't a really part of your core pack of people you see on a regular basis, but you did sense them missing.

On the moments you take to reflect on your life you notice just how small everything is getting. How compact, how claustrophobic everything is. Basic math tells you that there must be more space between these walls but there are no doors.

One day you wake up and go to your office but looking around you're not even sure how you really got there. There are no other doors just the one door from your house to your office.

You feel alone.

Isolation can happen for many reasons both internal and external. The reasons can be anything from mental state, actions to something as simple as an inflexible and strongly held opinion.

Individuals become isolated a team does not, not as readily at least. Teams, genuine teams of people that care about each other and the work they do, create an internal supportive culture. Individuals problems can be diminished through collective support. Toxic attitudes can be identified and a resolution can be reached.

In the same way a toxic attitude does not thrive in a strong team, a good team cannot thrive in an unsupportive or constrained organisational culture be it in a company or community. We may talk about how culture is important but I don't think we all consider what that means. Being inclusive and supportive requires real effort at all levels of an organisation.

Published in Random on June 24, 2015