Now, if you’re somebody who feels oddly alone with all your freedom working from home, this article is for you. Today’s question comes from one of my friends and she asks, You have a great website and tons of good posts. I started working from home for an online business just as I moved to a new town where I know nobody. The first year my job gave me a great paycheck and more freedom than ever. Yay! Yet my soul was longing for connection and casual face time with others. Social media and texts do not fill that void for me. I’ve never felt so out of sync. There were times when I only talked with the daycare people when I picked up my kids for 2 weeks at a stretch. Everything else was email. There’s a reason that isolation is an effective punishment in prisons. I’d love for you to talk about ways bosses can acknowledge this new world phenomenon.
Workers don’t want to admit that they feel an utter lack of connection and feel completely alone all day. After all, who wants to pay a socially silly loser that feels lonely on the job? So my question is this, do you have any suggestions to avoid getting sucked into isolation, do my work productively, and keep myself emotionally healthy and connected? Thanks so much, Megan. Megan, this is an awesome question. As millions of more people start working from home, whether it’s a part-time or full time, the issue of loneliness and isolation, it’s real. I mean, it’s actually something that we’ve dealt with within our company. Now, I’m going to tell you some of the strategies that we’ve used and some other ideas for you in just a few minutes, but first I need to address one thing. I don’t think that you can place responsibility on your boss or think that your bosses are unsympathetic and don’t care about you personally. I mean, bosses, we do not mind readers. Right? And the only way that they can support you is if you speak up and not only communicate about a challenge, but also bring them proposed solutions.
Look, being a boss myself, I can tell you firsthand that we are busy busting our humps trying to keep the lights on in our business and doing everything we possibly can to keep our people employed. And of course, every boss, including myself, wants their team to be absolutely happy and productive, but we need you to be proactive, to talk about what’s up for you, and to propose solutions, not just bring us complaints or problems.
I also want to say as someone who runs a virtual company that this is a very real issue for some team members, but not all of them.
So it’s not wise to expect bosses to force more interaction for people who don’t want it or need it. That’s why it is so vital that each of us takes responsibility for ourselves, that we communicate openly, and we be really proactive and look for ways to not only take care of what we need but also be sensitive to others and to the well being of the company itself. Now, with that said, I’ve gotta say Megan, I totally feel ya. It’s great to have the freedom of not punching a clock and not even taking a shower if you don’t want and not even wearing pants. I mean, sometimes I don’t wear pants. But boy, it can get lonely. And, as you said, it can even feel prison-like. Oh, the laptop lifestyle. I’m so free. Got no shoes on, no shower, no problem. Hello? Hello? Is anyone there? Are there snacks? Seriously though, if this is how you’re feeling, here are 8 really smart strategies to help you fight that loneliness when you’re working from home and you’re all alone.
Number one, get your social fix outside of work. So I know you said you’re in a new town and that can be really, really tough, but you can’t expect people to just knock on your door and bring you cookies. I mean, I know you know this, but you’ve gotta get out there. And I want you to start building real relationships. And you can just do it one at a time. Once you do, make this your focus. You’ve got to plan things. I do this all the time because, again, I can relate to you. I plan trips to Great Adventure to go on roller coasters, I make dates with my friends to go to the movies, to do weekend getaways, just to come over and have dinner at my place even if we order in. Again, the whole focus is to build those relationships and then plan, plan, plan.
Number two, you should consider a coworking space. So since remote work is growing so quickly, there are coworking spaces popping up everywhere. So have a look around your new neighborhood. And one benefit here is that you get to meet people who are in the same position doing kind of similar things, meaning they’re either working alone or they’re working virtually without a big, huge corporate office to go to every day.
Number three, and this is one that I do a lot too, work outside the house. So if you don’t opt for a coworking space, at least get your butt out once or twice a week. So you can go to work from the park or a coffee shop, just anything that will give you a change of scenery and a chance to be around other humans. Plus you’ll start to get to know people in your community. And I’ve gotta say, having simple conversations with someone other than your pet can do wonders.
Number four, schedule regular group chats. So, for example, our customer happiness team meets daily on the phone and they don’t just talk about work or what’s happening in the company. They do it to stay connected to each other and to stay connected to what’s happening in each other’s lives. We also have non-negotiable weekly team meetings too and, again, we have a distributed team all around the country. Sometimes I do Skype meetings with people and sometimes we even do group video chats, which is terrible if I haven’t showered but it’s entertaining for most people. Now, you can do this with people you work with too and you can do it with industry friends, whomever. You just want to schedule it and make it recurring. That’s key. Don’t just do it once and then forget about it for months. And I’ve gotta say, either phone or video really helps you to feel connected a lot more than email or text.
Number five, you might want to try taking regular phone-free or computer-free breaks. So do not just sit and stare at your computer all day long like a zombie-like uh. It’s not healthy. You want to set an alarm maybe every 90 minutes or so and get up and stretch your body and have some water. Maybe go walk outside for a few minutes. And this is another thing that can help, take a lunch break away from your screen.
Number six, another one of my favorites, go to group fitness classes. So nothing is more powerful for your brain and your emotional health and your productivity than working out. Science backs this up all day long. So rather than doing it by yourself, you should go take a group class. I mean, you can go dancing or spin or CrossFit or whatever floats your boat. And you’ll start getting to know people in your community, again, which is really important for you, and you’re gonna feel a lot better too.
Number seven hit up some local meetups about entrepreneurship or your industry. And here’s the deal, if there are no organizations that fit what you’re looking for, do not cry about it, Megan. You’ve gotta start one. You are a leader and you can start gathering people around and have meetings once a month or so.
Finally number eight, you can pitch in-person time. So I don’t know how big your team or your company is, but why not pitch your boss on the idea of having an in-person meet-up for the whole company at least once a year. You could volunteer to help organize it and keep costs down and then map out a whole agenda that will help move the company’s goals ahead. I want you to be creative and make your boss an offer that they cannot refuse. And look, you never know unless you ask. Right? Now these ideas, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. I’m sure our incredible readers will come up with a lot more ideas right underneath this post too. And for anyone who thinks getting to work in your pajamas is really like the be-all-end-all, I want you to remember this. Working from home might not demand much human interaction, but your soul does. That was my A to your Q, Megan.
I really hope it helps you and all those folks out there who are just starting to get their groove on working from home. And now I would love to hear from you. So can you relate to this loneliness and isolation that comes from working from home and being all by yourself? How do you deal?