Working from home has become increasingly common in the wake of the global pandemic. And while working remotely certainly has its benefits, it also comes with challenges. According to a 2018 study of remote workers, "loneliness" was their biggest challenge.
Since feelings of loneliness and isolation influence well-being as well as performance and productivity, it’s important to minimize these feelings when working remotely. Here are seven ways to fight loneliness as a remote worker.
1. Take advantage of the saved commuting time
Don't make the mistake of wasting the extra time you've gained from not having to travel to work anymore. Spend that extra time with your children, roommates, friends, or neighbors. Make time for social activities that you couldn't do if you had to go to the office every day. This can make a big difference in your day. And don't feel guilty about engaging in these activities. They're important to your mental health.
2. Set boundaries and plan breaks
Keeping yourself busy with work to distract yourself from loneliness won't work in the long run—and might make things worse. So, set strict office hours for yourself and plan activities outside of those times—such as exercising or reading a book. Also plan breaks and use these times to call or text friends, or engage in a fun online activity with a coworker. Knowing you'll have a moment for these things will help you feel less alone, and will also prevent you from grabbing your phone and scrolling while working.
3. Join virtual coworking sessions
Remote workers love a good coworking space. But due to the pandemic, many people are now unable to join an actual coworking space. The good news is you can join a virtual one, tuning into a virtual coworking session with strangers from all over the world or with coworkers or friends. There's a growing number of online communities that host virtual coworking sessions. You Zoom in, decide on the amount of time you'll all focus on work, and get started. This is a fun way to meet new people and can also help you stay more focused. Plus, you get to quickly share ideas, successes, and struggles with “coworkers.” Can't find a virtual coworking session that’s appealing to you? Start one yourself!
4. Video conferences and calls instead of endless emails.
How often do you send a quick email and it turns into an incredibly long and convoluted email chain? If you have the feeling your next email might be one of those again, just pick up the phone or hop on a quick video chat. It saves time, frustration, and you get to check in with your team quickly. Emailing and texting sometimes just won't get the message across and can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings. And a short video chat can quickly make you feel connected to another human being.
5. Get involved with an online community
Find forums where you can chat with like-minded people about something you’re passionate about. This can be a forum that revolves around your work, or a hobby or passion. While learning some new tips and tricks, you also get to know new people. Professionally, this can also be hugely beneficial. When network events aren't available, it's still important to establish new valuable connections. On Facebook, you can find groups that revolve around your specific profession; you can also find remote work groups and digital nomad groups.
6. Actively seek out connection
Although talking to yourself can be enjoyable and even a sign of intelligence, it’s important to connect with others. And don't be afraid to take the first step. Find at least one moment each day to call a friend or family member to check in on them, and let them know how you’re doing. Be honest about the situation, how you’re feeling, and explain that you value staying connected now more than ever. Sometimes even just acknowledging how you're feeling to someone else makes it less overwhelming. Making the time for human connection will help keep you one step ahead of loneliness.
7. Don't stay inside too long
Loneliness hits extra hard when it sits with you in the same room constantly. Make a habit out of getting outside for a bit (in this time, keeping social distancing rules). A walk through the park, do some gardening. Any fresh air will help you breathe through the hard times. But also change your scenery when you’re inside. Come out of your bedroom to work. Don't live in one spot. It might be nice to have the TV in front of you for distraction, the couch under you for naps, and food within reach, but it will make your world even smaller.
Alex Birch is the SEO Manager at Typeform. Lover of all things marketing and search, Alex is originally from Manchester, U.K., but is now enjoying life in sunny Barcelona.
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