5 steps to combating remote working loneliness
Whether you’re a freelancer, sole-trader, long-distance employee or quite simply juggling your work-life balance from your kitchen table, remote working is rich in both rewards and pitfalls. Although rolling out of bed into the ‘office’ takes less than a minute, with endless snacks and the most casual of dress codes; it can also be quite isolating and make you feel disconnected from your peers or from the outside world in general.
If this is how you’re feeling, you’re not alone – no, really! Although you’re the only person in your kitchen/office, you’re joined by many others who feel lonely due to working alone. According to a recent study*, battling feelings of loneliness and isolation affects 30.9 percent of remote workers in the UK. Additionally, 71 percent of hybrid or remote working Brits are struggling with work-life balance.
A circumstance welcomed by many during the pandemic, it seems for many remote working is here to stay. And whether you’re a social butterfly clawing the walls for some form of real-life face-to-face time, or an introvert who wouldn’t mind a water-cooler catch-up, there are a number of ways you can get your social fix and feel more included and boost your mental health in the process.
This loneliness awareness week we’re providing some of our top tips for combating remote working loneliness and improving your opportunities for social connection.
1. Mix it up a little
Try changing your surroundings and the location of your work and we don’t mean moving from your bedroom to your living room. The beauty of working from home is that you’re laptop based – if you have your laptop with you, you can work from pretty much anywhere.
It’s proven that social interaction can not only boost your mood, but it can also boost productivity and sense of purpose. Why not explore your local business centre and pitch up in their communal spaces for a morning, or an entire day?
Many modern Centres have all you need for the day, WiFi, good coffee and most importantly, people! As well as casual working, you could also try local co-working spaces, for a more dedicated space and more professional work setting. Here, you’ll likely be in the company of fellow remote workers, dying to see a friendly face and connect; you never know, you may even build business connections while feeling part of something.
As well as helping you to feel less isolated, you’ll also start to feel more of a distinction between work and home, which is a great way to recharge your brain and improve mental health.
2. Build a life outside of work
The distinction between your work and personal life can become somewhat blurry when working remotely. And, as mentioned above, it’s really important for mental wellbeing that you find ways to separate the two.
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re stuck into a big project or working towards a deadline, but you need to make time for yourself and keep that energy up to avoid burnout. Make sure you have regular breaks and build your work day around these, rather than squeezing them in between emails.
Take advantage of working remotely by doing the things you’d never have chance to in an office environment, such as; taking the dog for a walk, meeting your friend for a walk at lunch, doing a few work outs while waiting for the kettle or booking a gym session or activity straight after work so you finish when you should.
Not only will this ensure you’re staying active, but it will promote the production of endorphins that help to reduce those heavy feelings of depression and loneliness.
3. Join a business network in your local town
Now we can meet and gather, flex your socialising muscles and mix work with pleasure. Yes, networking can be enjoyable; you just need to find one that works for you.
Most networking events these days are super laid back, friendly and welcoming. And, if you find the right one, you might even get a free lunch. They’re a great way to share experiences, ideas and learn something new.
Not only that, but these events are often valuable to build your connections, grow your brand and widen your net further than many online equivalents can. Whether you want to network with industry peers, like-minded creatives or the type of people you’ve not previously mingled with, there’s something out there for everyone.
Try exploring Eventbrite for your next local networking event.
4. Go offline for a little
We spend most of our days online. Whether its sending emails, updating our social media profiles or deep diving into online research for our next big project, online is a part of everything we do. While it makes remote working possible, it can become all consuming.
Sending that last email at 6:30pm or doing some early morning social posts, is a sign of those parameters between work and home fading. And, because we have unlimited internet access at the palm of our hands, it’s easy to fall into the cycle of endlessly scrolling through socials.
Social media is great, but it doesn’t help combat loneliness. In fact, if you’re starting to feel socially isolated or lonely, social media can compound those feelings.
Make your home an offline sanctuary between the hours of 6pm and 7am; instead hit the gym, spend time doing activities the whole family can enjoy or simply switch-off. Recharge those batteries, so you’re rested and ready for the following day. You’ll feel more engaged with the outside world and less isolated after making some physical human connections.
5. Try hot-desking or a hybrid
Once you’ve built up your remote working style, you might find it beneficial to make your working week less home-based and more hybrid.
Co-working or hot-desking is an alternative to having a dedicated office space, where you only pay for the days that you use the space. This flexibility means that you have somewhere to work from at a relatively low cost, with the flexibility and freedom to use as and when it suits – breaking the bed to desk cycle and boosting social interaction.
Many Centres also have membership solutions to support something that falls in between hot-desking and permanent office space – for a more dedicated and private space that’s yours for a specified block of time, without committing to your own private office. This hybrid way of working is usually part of a co-working environment, so you will get that social buzz of an ‘office’ but access to your own semi-private zone for a set day of the week or another regular format that works for you.