The number of remote workers is on the rise. Indeed, as Upwork’s Future Workforce Report reveals, 1,000 hiring managers believe that up to 38% of full-time employees will be working remotely in the next 10 years. Many employers are respecting the fact that remote work can lead to greater job satisfaction and improved work-life balance. Moreover, happy employees are more productive and loyal employees.
However, there are some downsides to working from home. Remote workers in a company often feel disconnected from each other, with video conference calls not providing the rapport that you get from working in an office together. This results in employees becoming disengaged, which can affect team morale and productivity.
Many employees are thrilled at the prospect of not having to be in an office all day. Nonetheless, the most common complaint from remote workers is that they find their work days quite isolating; sometimes unbearably so. Freedom and flexibility are both massively beneficial. But as social creatures, we can become agitated and sullen without social interaction in the day. In fact, loneliness is a serious issue, as it is linked to poor outcomes in physical and mental health.
The good news, though, is that there are many ways for remote workers to overcome the scourge of loneliness and feel connected to others in the work week.
Don’t Work From Home Every Day
Let’s be honest, working from home can be pretty great. You can work whilst in bed, in your pyjamas, and have access to your fridge all day. On the other hand, this can make you unproductive. Also, if you work from home every day, cabin fever may start to set in. This is why it’s important to mix up your work week with some days when you’re working around people. This will help you to avoid procrastination, stay productive, and feel less isolated.
Find a coffee shop or café that has a good set up for remote workers. This may mean it has plenty of tables available, comfortable seats, super fast Wi-Fi, cheap drinks, an abundance of mains sockets to charge your laptop, decent food, a quiet atmosphere, etc. In all likelihood, if you find a coffee shop like this, there will be other people working away on their laptops as well.
Nevertheless, you may not feel like striking up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop. This is why co-working spaces are an attractive alternative. You’ll be around remote workers in a setting that is more conducive to social interaction.
At a co-working space, so long as it isn’t dead quiet, you can meet all sorts of interesting people working in different industries, on a variety of projects.
As a freelancer, co-working spaces can offer an effective means of networking.
Meet Up With People As Part of Your Schedule
Having a schedule as a remote worker allows you to manage your time wisely and keep you productive. But without time for socialising in your schedule, you may end up spending your whole day glued to your laptop.
Fortunately, as a remote worker, and especially as a freelancer, you have a lot of flexibility. In the morning, you could go for a walk or a run with someone. And during the day, you could meet a friend or family member for lunch or a coffee. In the evening, though, is when you will likely have most of your free time.
Try and organise to go out in the evening with friends or family, at least once a week. While a lot of people you know may have office jobs and want to relax at home in the evening, rather than go out, this doesn’t mean you can’t meet up. You could go round their place every so often, and maybe watch a movie or cook a meal.
If everyone you know is busy or feeling unsocial when you’re desperate to socialise, there will be loads of meetups in your city.
There are meetups that cater to a plethora of interests and hobbies, so they can be a fantastic way to chat with like-minded people and make some friendships along the way.
Many meetup groups get together on a weekly basis, so make those events a part of your schedule. You may not always be up for meeting new people. However, if you’ve been feeling isolated, it may be worth just forcing yourself to go. You’ll often be glad you did.
Another way to be around people as a remote worker is to start volunteering. Now, you may have a busy and hectic schedule that makes the idea of more work unfeasible. Nevertheless, volunteering doesn’t have to be a big commitment or tiring work.
If you can find a volunteering opportunity where you work once or twice a week, perhaps, then you can add some very positive and meaningful social interaction into your week.
Whether you’re a full-time employee, a freelancer, or an online entrepreneur, you may discover that working remotely all day isn’t for you. And that’s ok. An ideal solution may be a combination of remote work with part-time work or working for a company that allows you to work remotely some of the time.
By: Sam Woolfe