For many people, working from home is a dream come true. You no longer have to spend hours driving to and from the office, stuck in traffic. You don’t have to worry about coworkers walking by your desk and interrupting you. You probably don’t even have to worry about adhering to a specific dress code. Instead, you can work from the comfort of your home office, complying only with the rules you set for yourself.
However, working from home is not without its downsides. Even if you’re a natural introvert, and even if you weren’t a big fan of your fellow coworkers, working by yourself day in and day out can get lonely. Over time, that loneliness could lead to depression, loss of meaning and job satisfaction, and much, much lower productivity.
Fortunately, there are some proactive steps you can take to stay social and stave off loneliness when working from home.
Find a Nearby Coworking Space
Coworking spaces are becoming more popular, in line with the rise of the popularity of remote work. In a coworking space, you can pay a daily rate (or monthly rate) to gain access to a workspace of your own in a semi-conventional office environment. Amenities depends on the establishment, but you can usually count on electricity, Wi-Fi, and a fully functional kitchen. More importantly, you’ll be surrounded by other remote workers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, so you can socialize between tasks or just feel the company of others around you. Novel Coworking The Capitol is a great example of a coworking space, but if you don’t live in Wisconsin, you can almost certainly find one in your area.
Visit a Café, Library, or Park
If you’re not interested in working at a coworking space, or if you’re trying to work more frugally, you can visit a café, library, or a park to do your work as well. You won’t find as many amenities at these locations, so it may be difficult to get your work done, but you will enjoy the company of other people. Even if you only leave the house for an hour or two, you could get the social boost you need to get through the rest of the day.
Stay in Touch With Your Coworkers
Even if you’re working from home, you still have coworkers—so stay in touch with them. If there’s someone you get along with, consider chatting with them periodically throughout the day, and schedule phone calls and video meetings periodically so the connection feels more personal.
Better yet, try to meet with your coworkers in person on a regular basis. For example, if you live in the same neighborhood, you could make plans to get lunch together once a week. This isn’t possible for everyone, especially if you’re on a team that’s distributed throughout the country, but it’s advantageous for everyone who can take advantage of it.
Join an Online Community
Nearly 4 percent of the population now works from home full-time, and even more people work from home at least part of the time. These numbers are expected to grow in the next several years. In other words, you aren’t alone. There are millions of people just like you, many of whom will also struggle with loneliness at some point in their careers.
Make the most of this by joining an online community. Forums, subforums, social media groups dedicated to remote workers could be the perfect opportunity to network with like-minded professionals and establish rapport.
Volunteer (or Join a Local Community)
It’s also important for you to find ways to socialize outside the realm of your traditional work. It may be tempting to stay at home for pure convenience—especially if you’re tired after a long day of work—but you have to break out of your comfort zone and get involved in something. One of the easiest ways to do this is to volunteer for a local cause; for example, you could distribute food and clothes to the needy people in your area, clean up litter in the parks, or walk dogs at the local animal shelter. If you don’t want to volunteer, you may be able to join a local group dedicated to a hobby like crafting, programming, board gaming, or playing a sport.
There aren’t any shortcuts or “hacks” to beat the loneliness you’ll inevitably feel as part of working from home. Instead, you have to make an effort to engage with other people on a regular basis. There are plenty of options available, from keeping in touch with your former coworkers to picking up a new hobby or sport, but you’ll need to find time and make it a priority no matter what.
Photos are pixabay creative commons
Guest Author Bio
Jamie is a freelance writer who covers trends in business, technology, and health. She loves to go skiing, camping, and rock climbing with her family.