Propinquity: 2021 Word of the Year

The winner of the Bredesen 2021 Word of the Year contest* is:


The Propinquity Effect refers to the seemingly obvious fact that you make connections with people you are physically, mentally, or emotionally in close proximity.

I chose this word because of the work from home (WFH) situation many have found themselves in due to the pandemic. This includes those that were laid off or otherwise had no regular physical space to go to where interaction with others could take place. This could include churches, libraries, and other physical gathering spaces.

I predict that, in 2023 or 2024, this word will make a comeback as all the companies that have gone to full WFH as a permanent arrangement will shift back to a hybrid or mostly in person.

All the people that are changing jobs during the Great Resignation and are working from home from the beginning at these “perma-WFH” companies will never feel as connected to their new companies than if they were in the office at least some of the time. This applies to those that are working far-remote (in other states) also.

I believe this connection to the people or the organization is an important part of employee retention. Without it, without Propinquity, these non-connected employees will seek other organizations when the job no longer satisfies.

* not a real contest in case you were wondering. Unless I remember to do this next year.

2 responses to “Propinquity: 2021 Word of the Year”

  1. Yeah, I like the word too, mostly the sound of it because I had forgotten the meaning. But it’s not a meaningful contest unless the old man gets a vote too.

    And there’s “consanguinity”. That’s a neat sounding word too.

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