Working remotely seems like a dream to most people. The flexibility it affords is a huge perk, after all, it allows you to travel freely, reduce your commute, it gives you more autonomy, and the list goes on and on. However, nothing is perfect and there are downsides to remote working too. According to the State of Remote Work’s 2019 Report, loneliness is one of the biggest struggles that remote workers face.
When you no longer work in an office situation, you compromise on the amount of social interaction you get every day. There are no more casual chats in the pantry or bonding sessions over lunch. As humans are social creatures by nature, this sort of loneliness can negatively impact physical and mental health as well as productivity. It is therefore incredibly important for remote workers to take steps to combat this loneliness.
So, let’s take a look at what you as a remote worker can do to avoid loneliness and get that social interaction necessary for all humans.
1. Venture out of your home at least once a week
Grab your laptop and head to a café to get your work done once a week. Alternatively, check out find your best workspace solution – many have daily plans in addition to monthly ones. Most of these spaces have lounge/common areas you can socialize and network in, apart from the hotdesks you work at.
You should also branch out and find other remote workers near you, ideally in the same industry. You can meet up with them for your weekly out-of-home work sessions and work on similar projects. Not only will you make new friends, you will also benefit from collaborating and brainstorming together. This may seem like a challenging task, which is why Flydesk is developing an application for remote workers to find other like-minded individuals around them.
2. Be socially active – make plans outside of work
Meet up with your friends and family more often! Not only will they welcome the extra time with you, you’ll be making up for the lack of social interaction at work. As an added benefit, these plans will stop you from working after working hours to prevent exhaustion and burnout.
You can also attend social events such as talks and workshops. Not only do these provide a unique opportunity for you to network and professional circle, you’ll also be able to socialize and make new friends! Plenty of coworking spaces organize such events on a regular basis, so a hotdesk membership may come in handy here.
Alternatively, you can consider meet-up groups. These are typically centred around hobbies, so for example, if you enjoy hiking, you’d look for a meet-up group that regularly goes on hikes. An excellent way to find these meet-up groups is via Meetup – there are several different types of groups on there so you will surely be able to find one that suits your interests.
3. Stay connected online
It’s not always possible to form connections in real life, so why not turn to the Internet? Increase your transparency on social media platforms and forums and be honest about the struggles you are facing as a remote worker. Look for support groups specifically for remote workers, like this Slack community, for example. You’ll likely find that plenty of other people are going through similar things and may have answers for you. You may even be able to help someone else!
You should also use the internet to foster social interaction between you and your co-workers. Communicate with your team members over chat and during audio/video calls – if they’re remote workers, they’re likely struggling with the same loneliness that you are.
4. Make your virtual relationships more personal
Bonding with your team members is extremely important as it will improve your team’s overall productivity. After all, people work better with people they know. Plus, this bonding will help you get the social interaction you need.
Take time to discuss personal, fun topics with your team members. Don’t restrict all your meetings and calls strictly to work topics. You can even arrange fun activities such as virtual happy hour or create motivational challenges for your team members.
The idea of making virtual relationships personal may seem daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of apps out there to help you in this aspect. Bonusly, Donut and HeyTaco are all good examples of these apps. They will help boost employee engagement to build stronger, happier teams.
5. Incorporate the right amount of variety into your workday
One of the biggest benefits of remote working is the ability to set your own schedule. So, understand your needs and organize your work schedule accordingly so you feel connected to others. One way to do this is by switching your location up – try working at a café, a park, at a hotdesk in a coworking space, etc.
You can also mix up your regular workday with solo work, collaborative group projects and audio or video calls with your team members. Remember to incorporate face-to-face time for either work or socialization every once in a while too! This is incredibly important as meeting others in-person will provide a sense of intimacy, connection and empathy that is otherwise hard to acquire.
Planning your work schedule in advance will ensure you prioritize your social needs and gain that feeling of connectedness. It allows you to take a proactive stance against loneliness so that you can get your work done without compromising on the social aspect of life.
So, there you have it – the five best methods you can use to combat loneliness as a remote worker. Try them out and see which ones work best for you!