When we think about some of the problems that people run into when working remotely, feeling lonely almost always comes to the top of the pile. It’s natural that employees who are working away from others and in their own setting can from time to time miss the company of their teammates. It’s not just a remote issue though, it’s also a global one and part of a loneliness epidemic.
We’ve entered an age where less importance is placed on traditional relationships than in the past. With technology allowing us to talk to friends from around the globe, you can now work from one country and keep in touch with ease. But this kind of relationship doesn’t always stop us from feeling lonely, even though we are all more connected than ever.
2020 has been an even more difficult year for feelings of loneliness for much the same reason. Most of us aren’t traveling, but we are having to physically distance from friends and family. Zoom calls and WhatsApp messages aren’t however able to bring the same experience as meeting for a coffee or just hanging out.
Loneliness and remote
Taking a look back at remote workers specifically, there is one group that feel the effects of loneliness the most: those that work from home. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020, loneliness is consistently chosen as one of the top struggles that a remote worker can face. Remote work comes in a lot of different forms, and some are more solitary than others. Not everyone who works outside the office is doing so without interacting with others at all.
You may be living the life of a digital nomad and constantly meeting new people, working in a coworking space with others to bounce ideas off, or perhaps working as part of hybrid distributed teams. Working from a home office provides much less of a chance for socializing and collaborating physically with your teammates.
What are the effects of loneliness on a remote employee working from home? Well to begin it’s not just work performance that can be affected, but a whole host of different detrimental effects to mental and physical health too.
The home office can be a lonely place
Working alone from home means that your primary methods of communication with the outside world are all done digitally. Your workspace also is a part of where you live, meaning that it’s easy to end up spending extremely long amounts of time without leaving your home or apartment much.
After a long day at work, finding the time or energy to want to leave your place and make the effort to socialize isn’t easy.
Even socializing with your colleagues virtually can be difficult if you don’t have organized ways of connecting with each other. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Remote work is hugely popular and working from home is an in-demand arrangement or perk for many people looking for a new job. It is completely possible to successfully work remotely by using methods to deal with loneliness.
We’ve got together some of our most tried and tested ideas to help any of you out there feeling isolated in their remote home office.
Top Remote-how tips for avoiding loneliness when working remotely from home:
- Commit to working outside your home (cafe or coworking space) every now and then. You can even try setting aside a day a week to do so, or ask your employer for an allowance to work from a coworking space if you prefer. If you explain your reasons and how it can help to avoid loneliness, it should help you persuade your team leader or boss that it’s beneficial for both you and the company.
- Always use video conferencing with your video on. This helps to replicate the office experience a bit more, and makes every call more personal. You then know that both of you are dedicating your full attention and time to one another, and you get to actually see your coworker. Without doing this, it can be easy to go a full week without ever seeing your coworkers’ faces! However, if you feel tired and don’t feel like turning on your camera it’s also ok to communicate that to your team.
- Ask for “social time” during virtual meetings to connect and talk with your team or set dedicated social calls. This can be as easy as having 5 minutes at the start of each call or the end to talk about whatever you feel like. Dedicated social calls can take all sorts of formats too, including virtual coffee breaks or group events and games.
- Join peer groups that are connected with your personal interests. These can be online communities or physical, depending on what’s available in your area. You may even have some groups like this at your workplace too for sport or other topics. Finding people who are as passionate about a topic as you is particularly therapeutic and can really help alleviate feelings of loneliness.
- Join a virtual coworking space. If you can’t make it to a physical coworking space, then this is a great alternative to try. If you’re feeling alone, being able to cooperate and work with other like-minded individuals can go a long way to stopping feeling lonely. Joining dedicated work sessions, social events, and even lifestyle and wellbeing courses all through a virtual coworking space are possible without needing to leave the home office.
Virtual coworking is our solution to the loneliness epidemic
Even by following best practices and taking on board tips and tricks to combat feeling lonely, inevitably most of us will feel sometimes alone when working from home. It always has been and probably always will be one of the top struggles we can face. So that’s why we looked at taking a different approach to how we deal with it.
We all want to feel part of a community, and unfortunately not every remote workplace can offer exactly what we need.
That’s why we have created a new virtual coworking experience that provides the same support, opportunities, and socializing that a traditional coworking space typically offers. By creating a network of ambitious and like-minded remote professionals, we can all together combat the loneliness that we sometimes feel.