How to Avoid Feeling Lonely When Working from Home
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If you weigh the pros and cons of remote work, you’ll probably list more advantages, like flexible schedules and no commute. In fact, 97% of people would like to keep working remotely for the rest of their careers and recommend remote work to others, according to Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work report.
Still, a decline in our mental wellbeing can overshadow all the perks of working remotely if we’re not intentional about combating the feeling of loneliness on a daily basis.
Psychologists have been exploring the lack of in-person social interactions that normally take place in an in-office environment and its impact on our creativity, productivity, and mental health.
Studies proving loneliness in remote workers date back to 2003, and the newest findings aren’t any different: almost 2/3 of workers feel isolated when working from home. The percentage is even higher for freelancers and entrepreneurs, and social distancing caused by the pandemic hasn’t made things any easier.
Our team from Deel has some first-hand tips on how to stop loneliness from spoiling your remote work experience.
1. Change your environment regularly
Working from home doesn’t mean you have to work from your home office every day. Working from co-working spaces, a local library, or laptop-friendly coffee shops will create a little dynamic in your workday and allow you to get your daily dose of human connection.
If your job allows it, working from a coffee shop can be an excellent way for you to spend your working hours in a place you enjoy. Even searching for a suitable place to work from can be an adventure on its own. Make sure the café you choose has strong Wi-Fi, comfy chairs, and power outlets, and you’re all set.
Pro tip: If you don’t know where to start your search, use this cool laptop-friendly café finder and see if your favorite cities are listed!
Joining a coworking space is excellent if you want to connect with a local community or miss the feeling of being at the office. These spaces provide a quieter environment where you can attend a Zoom meeting and often have well-stocked kitchens with plenty of other amenities for a daily or monthly fee.
2. Find your own community of remote workers
Joining an online community, co-working space, or digital nomad group can help you find other remote workers in a similar situation. Meeting people going through the same shared experiences as you—loneliness, working through the pandemic, or adjusting to remote work—brings people closer together, fosters strong friendships, and provides great networking opportunities.
Connecting with other remote workers is particularly important for independent contractors who often lack team members and regular points of contact.
Get familiar with your local co-working spaces and online Slack communities. If you ever feel lonely or lack social connection, you can book a hot desk or reach out to your Slack community to arrange a face-to-face meet-up or virtual coffee break.
3. Schedule social activities outside of work
You must be intentional about scheduling your social time outside of work when working from home. Reorganize your work week to see where your favorite activities fit and devote time to catching up with friends and family.
Of course, you don’t need to “busy” yourself all the time. Some days you might want to just Netflix and chill and scroll through social media. However, devoting time for a phone call with a loved one or fitting in a gym class on your lunch break is sure to fill you with energy and combat any feelings of loneliness.
You can benefit from both work-related events and hobbies. For example, joining a co-working space often provides access to different meet-ups, workshops, and networking events where you can socialize with other remote workers.
Another excellent opportunity to squeeze in some “you time” is when you would have been commuting to the workplace. Take advantage of the reclaimed time and use it for your favorite activities such as painting, dancing, or reading.
Volunteer work is another great way to interact with people while supporting your community and giving you an increased sense of purpose.
4. Optimize your office design
Too much noise and clutter on your desk can negatively affect your productivity and engagement no matter where you work. There’s even a syndrome called “Sick building syndrome,” which commonly occurs in offices with poor ventilation, fluorescent lights, too much dust, crowded desks, etc.
When working from home, your home office layout matters. Remove clutter from your desk and drawers, let in enough natural light, and place your desk next to a window so you hear and see people, cars, and nature outside.
A pleasant workspace will help you feel more stimulated and inspired throughout the day, boosting your productivity and general mood.
5. Spend time outside
Spending time in sunlight and fresh air has many benefits: it helps boost focus, de-stress, and improve your circulation after sitting all day. Moreover, it eases loneliness since plenty of outdoor activities and sports can be enjoyed alongside or among other humans.
Even a quick walk in the park is a great way to get some fresh air before transitioning into a new task or clearing your head after finishing work.
If you have portable Wi-Fi or a hotspot, you could even make the park your office for a day when the weather permits.
6. Disconnect from your phone and computer
When working remotely, the line between work and free time is often blurry, which affects our work-life balance and leads to burnout. From time to time, it’s important to socialize or relax without the urge to check our emails or make a phone call.
While chatting to co-workers or clients about work-related matters may feel like healthy social interaction, it's still work. Setting aside some time during the day to disconnect from work, turn off Slack notifications, put down your laptop, and talk about anything but work is important.
You can still talk with your team members or others in a co-working space, but try to skip work-related topics. Switching the conversation to music, travel, or pets will freshen up your day and prevent you from feeling consumed by work.
7. Adopt a furry friend
In 2020, Microsoft found that 28% of remote workers prefer to work this way because they get to spend more time with their pets. Cats, dogs, and other animals can prevent or mitigate depression and improve your mental health by combatting loneliness which is often a trigger. In addition, pets can reduce stress and anxiety, strengthen your sense of purpose, and boost your mood and sleep quality.
In addition to providing companionship, some pets, like dogs, require you to be more active, which can benefit your physical health. Walking your dog daily allows you to meet other dog owners and engage socially.
8. Ask for help when you feel down
Asking for support and sharing how you feel can be crucial in preventing and combating loneliness while working from home. Likely, you’re not alone in how you feel, and others are experiencing similar emotions. Reach out to your colleagues, ask them how they’re doing, and share experiences. Just the act of sharing can be cathartic and result in extra support from your fellow remote workers.
Recognizing that you need a helping hand isn’t the easiest task: sometimes, we’re so swamped with work that we don’t have time to do some soul searching.
Take a moment to slow down and think about how you feel. If you feel lonely, try a few strategies we mentioned and see which one helps you cope with loneliness in the most comfortable and successful way.
Remove loneliness from the remote work equation
Loneliness is not a direct consequence of remote working. It’s a sign that we aren’t yet fully adjusted to this way of working. Getting the social interaction you need requires conscious effort and commitment. By investing as much time in your friends, family, and hobbies as you do your work, you can enjoy all of the benefits of remote work without the feelings of loneliness.