All around us, an invisible workplace revolution is taking place. From stay-at-home parents and caregivers to students and entrepreneurs, many are choosing to work from home or places other than their main office. Remote working has become so popular that some estimate it to be the new U.S. workforce majority.
While flexibility is commonly cited as a positive of remote working, there are some challenges too, like the sense of isolation. In Buffer’s State of Work 2018 report, loneliness was cited as the biggest struggle in remote work.
Here’s how you can avoid feeling down and alone even when you’re not at the office.
Remember that you are not alone
First and foremost, it’s vital to remember that you’re never alone in your struggles. Other remote workers have been through similar situations as you. Don’t be afraid to join Slack groups for remote workers or similar communities for guidance. Lean on your friends and family for strength and inspiration too.
If you are in need of immediate help services or emotional support, please consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). This is a toll-free hotline available 24/7 in the United States. They also have an online chat that allows you to message a responder confidentially.
Identifying your personality needs
You’ve likely taken a personality test before. Perhaps it was through Facebook or while you were in school. But as a remote worker, these personality tests take on a different meaning. Not only can they describe your strengths and weaknesses. They can also reveal common workplace habits and career paths.
To determine whether you are more of an introvert or extrovert, consider using the 16Personalities test, which is based on the Myers-Briggs personality theory. As well, you’ll learn other important assessments of your character.
Of course, these tests must be taken with a grain of salt — they are not always developed with validity or reliability in mind. For example, the results you receive one day may not be the same as the results given on another, depending on your response. Despite some flaws, these tests can help steer you towards a better understanding of yourself.
How to beat remote work isolation
Perhaps the most difficult obstacle of a remote worker is the sense of isolation at home. Without any coworkers or peers to talk to, your work experience may feel extremely lonely.
Fortunately, you can combat that feeling. Here are a few suggestions:
Use effective communication technology
Chances are you’ve already used instant messaging or video conferencing. Make it a habit to use these tools to communicate with your team regularly. Hold meetings via Zoom or a similar conference software. Phone calls may suffice. But video can bring people closer, revealing nuances like facial expressions and body language. Similarly, an instant message can convey a greater sense of presence and availability than email.
Hold daily check-in calls
Every morning, have a quick five-minute check-in. This will serve to update the team on what you’re working on and help you learn about what the rest of the team is doing. These quick calls can highlight opportunities for collaboration or let others know that you need support. Check-ins only last a few minutes but can have a significant impact on your connection with the team.
Send end-of-week updates
On a similar note, weekly updates help your team gauge your overall progress and offer help when necessary. As a remote worker, you can feel increasingly isolated when you do not communicate the work you do to the rest of the team. By scheduling time each week to reflect on the previous week, you can feel closer to the overall mission and operations of the company.
How coworking can help with loneliness
Just as remote working has caught on, so too has coworking, which is a popular option for remote workers across the country. Coworking offers entrepreneurs, small businesses, and enterprises an affordable workspace, various amenities, and a friendly community to take part in. It can also be an effective way to deal with the loneliness of remote work.
A boost in productivity
From loud family members to comfy beds, the work-from-home experience can feel like a minefield of distractions. Coworking spaces, however, are designed for work collaborations in mind. A quick walk through a coworking space will highlight many of the productivity-enhancing features, such as dedicated desks, conference rooms, phone booths, printing and fax machines, and much more.
A sense of community
Coworking is centered around the philosophy that people work better together. Throughout many coworking spaces, you’ll notice people collaborating on projects, chatting over coffee, or socializing more freely than in a corporate environment. Novel Coworking spaces frequently host networking events, lunch and learns, game nights, and other community events, drawing attendees from the building and around the neighborhood.
An opportunity to network
Innovative products and ideas can quickly arise when two entrepreneurial minds meet. Coworking spaces tear down the walls that divide people from different businesses or departments. This results in some truly unique collaborations. We’ve seen career coaches, lawyers, agencies, and other businesses find clients right from the coworking floor.
How to beat loneliness at home
Working from home may be your only option. While some of the tips below overlap with general advice for beating remote work isolation, use them to optimize your home office work experience.
Develop an unconventional schedule
The highlight of any remote worker is the ability to set hours, within reason, of course. While we don’t recommend working late into the night, you also don’t have set 9-5 hours. So take advantage of the flexible schedule afforded to you by your work. Work on the weekends, evenings, or early mornings. Then rest, eat, go outside, or do something else in-between hours.
Explore the outdoors
Get out of the house whenever you can! Staying indoors is a guaranteed path to feeling trapped, stuck, and isolated. Between major work hours, find the time to step outside or walk your dog. Further split up the day with some grocery shopping or anything else that will get you up and moving. Studies have also shown that sunlight can be a major factor in one’s happiness. So push yourself to go out during the day when you can.
Make some calls
Staying in touch with people via Slack or text message isn’t as personal or immediate as a phone call. Just hearing someone’s voice or laughter can give us a sense of connection that can’t be conveyed with an emoji or in 140 characters. Whenever possible, call your coworkers or schedule a meeting instead of writing it out in a message. Not only will it be clearer and more efficient, but it can also feel a lot more like being in the office.
The same applies to personal calls. With so much to do in the day, we can easily forget to make time for ourselves and our loved ones. Try to schedule time in the day to reach out and connect with a family member or friend, even for a few minutes. It will make a world of difference for your mindset.
Remote work represents a new and exciting way to work in the 21st century. But for those unaccustomed to the way of remote working, the experience can be overwhelming. Remote workers must take additional care not only to stay on top of various projects but also to take care of their mental health. And a large part of one’s mental well-being involves meaningful social interaction.
Looking for more advice on the remote working experience? Check out these general tips.