How to Combat Loneliness as a Remote Worker
The idea of not having to go to an office can be liberating. It frees you from needing to rely on dry cleaning and from the hassle of a commute, but it also frees you from face-to-face interactions with coworkers on a daily basis. Over time, a complete lack of social activity can cause feelings of isolation. Here are some clever tips for working remotely that can help you deal with loneliness from the job.
According to work from home statistics, over 20 percent of remote workers say that loneliness is the largest drawback related to telecommuting. Not interacting with other people can have serious physical and emotional effects including increasing the chances of suffering heart disease, ruining sleep cycles, and affecting healthy diet and exercise rates.
However, regular social interaction is not the only kind of isolation that telecommuters face. As outlined in this Forbes article, in addition to the sometimes debilitating effects of a lack of social interaction, there are stress factors related to:
- Resource Isolation: Which means that you are now responsible for the added stress of being your own office like taking care of supplies and handling questions that you might turn to other company sectors (like IT or HR) by yourself.
- Opportunity Isolation: When working from home, it’s easier for employers (and employees) to neglect career growth as a priority. Things like promotion conversations are more difficult to have, and to justify, when off-site.
- Development Isolation: Without the connection to co-workers it can be more difficult to see how your work and performance level compares to others, creating a stressful situation.
As someone who works from home, it is likely that the best way to combat every level of isolation is through improved communication and prepared informational exchange.
While ostensibly similar, remote working is not fully the same action as working in a dedicated office space. It’s important to look at how it functions and to see that it requires a different approach, especially when it comes to communication. Consider these tips for working remotely below:
Tips for Working Remotely that Fight Loneliness
Schedule regular check-ins: You may have played it by ear previously when it came to having team meetings or meetings with your superiors. But when working from home you may want to make sure that you have many regular meetings on the calendar. Without being in the same space it is easier to drift apart. Coordination is key here and it helps regulate your workday more effectively too.
Get your team together: Regular in-person meetings, either at a virtual office space or other meet up, can alleviate some of the social isolation that causes a lack of team cohesion. If you can’t meet physically, try to use a video meeting rather than just email or text as it creates a slightly better feeling of contact.
Get out of your house: Using a coworking space can be a great antidote to both loneliness and resource isolation. Most coworking venues carry office supplies and can provide resources like copiers or printers. In addition, a coworking space is a great place to meet peers who are also remote workers. While they may not be in the same business, they will likely have similar outlooks when it comes to telecommuting and might be a good place to start a conversation regarding strategies to combat isolation.
Actively seek out remote worker networking opportunities: Again, fellow telecommuters are facing similar isolation issues with more people working from home than ever, no one is ever alone in their reactions to telecommuting. Online and in-person networking forums provide ways to connect on the difficulties associated with isolation and to help each other with plausible strategies for fighting the related issue.
Ultimately, the major difference when you are working from home when compared to a traditional office space is a need to be more centered and schedule savvy when communicating. It’s no longer possible to just drop by someone’s office or to have a conversation in the hallway, so you may have to schedule this kind of thing in advance. Though it takes the spontaneity out of these interactions, it also regulates the when and where making these conversations potentially more constructive.
This scheduling goes for social interaction as well, it’s more important than ever to create specific times to meet with friends, to get meals with coworkers, or to spend evenings with family. While isolation can be crippling, understanding the aspects of it and actively combating these are not complex, they just have to be incorporated as part of your new work reality.
Sarah is a Content Marketing Manager at Siege Media and Your Best Digs who works remotely while traveling. She’s passionate about developing high-quality content for diverse industries ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies. When she’s not creating content, she’s likely hiking a new trail or mapping out the next destination.