How to Avoid Feeling Lonely When Working Remotely
Isolation is the scourge of remote work. However, you are not alone in it.
Remote culture has been attracting a lot of companies before, but with the break out of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), it took a new spin. While isolation is an effective method of containing the disease from spreading, it is a big problem for those who have recently joined the remote workforce. Well, it is challenging for experienced remote workers as well.
In the 2018 State of Remote Work report, loneliness was named the biggest challenge for remote employees. Loneliness and isolation have a bad influence on performance and even more negative effects on mental health.
Companies with well-developed remote work cultures are aware of these issues and make sure employees feel included no matter where in the world they may be located. However, those who don’t have a lot of experience managing distributed teams may end up unintentionally forgetting about this aspect of work in the overall commotion. This leaves their employees in charge of their own remote well-being.
The transition from traditional office work to a remote environment is hard to navigate at first. You need to adjust quickly, learning how to manage your own time, stay productive, avoid distractions, set boundaries and much more while doing your work well. No wonder that the social component often gets set to the background.
If before the logical solution was to go out and socialize with your peers, now the sensible thing is to avoid unnecessary human contact. The problem is that humans are social creatures and we need other people around.
If you were feeling left out and struggling with remote work, don’t worry just yet. The good news is that you are in control of your professional environment and you can make it as comfortable as you want. Not being physically present in the office doesn’t mean that your role in the company changes in any way.
Here are several suggestions that helped me personally to overcome feeling isolated while working from home for the past 2 years. No matter how experienced in being in a remote environment you are, the feeling of loneliness can catch up with you at any point in your career.
Join digital communities
The good news is that you are not alone. There are many people who have recently found themselves in the same situation and might be feeling confused and overwhelmed with the sudden change. This is the perfect time to join forces.
You can get support, learn from others' experience, grow your professional network. And why limit it to professional communities only? Explore communities that represent the same interests or maybe you can discover a new topic that will draw your attention. Don’t forget to keep an open mind and be respectful.
Keep in touch with your colleagues
With digital tools like Slack (or other messengers) you don’t have to miss out on watercooler chats and a casual hanging around. Having a chat dedicated to non-work-related topics is a good way to keep in touch with colleagues and stay update on general news.
This is not limited to remote work only — creating a space for general communication benefits company culture and helps employees to feel more connected.
Use video communication tools
Nothing will ever replace a regular face to face conversation by the level of engagement and clarity. Video calls are the closest we can get to it. Even if you are not the biggest fan of getting in front of the camera, make sure you have regular check-ins with your team. Emails and texts are good but occasional video calls can:
- provide more clarity
- minimize miscommunication
- save time
- give you a chance to see a friendly face
Spend time with your family
Learn to leave work at work. It is crucial for remote workers to learn how to establish boundaries and stick to them. It becomes more difficult to unplug and stop working when you don’t need to commute or leave the office until very late? As a result, burnout and unhealthy work-life balance.
Instead, make your evenings a work-free zone. Learn to turn off your laptop and your mind, leaving work problems at work — they are still will be there tomorrow. Spend time after work with your family and see how different it could be when you are fully invested in it.
If you are following the health recommendations, they and closest friends might be the only people that you will see for a while. Make the best out of the time that you get to spend with them.
There are many reasons why people choose to work from their homes or co-working spaces instead of regular offices, but it’s a matter of personal taste and habit. There is plenty of information and advice online on how to make the best out of your remote routine, maximize your productivity and keep sane while adjusting. With the right resources, this transition should create minimum inconvenience.
Hopefully, those who prefer working in the office will be able to return to their spaces and things will back to normal soon. While you are waiting for the things to settle down try to enjoy this change of scenery and an opportunity to shake up your work routine and who knows, maybe you’ll grow to like working remotely.