With an increasing number of jobs allowing people to work from home or remotely, the traditional office can feel like a thing of the past. That means a Berlin coffee shop, your bed, a coworking space, or even a beach can all become the day's workspace. One downside to all of that independence, however, is that many people quickly become lonely working from home. You start feeling a little like a hermit. You realize it's been two days since you talked to anyone other than the teenage barista. (Who rarely, if ever, gets your order right.) But, luckily, there are steps you can take to combat work-from-home loneliness.
Therapist Dea Dean tells Bustle that the isolation of working from home can lead to feeling lonely, which can lead to increased isolation, which circles back to create more loneliness. Dean says it’s important to recognize that cycle as it’s happening and take conscientious steps to break out of it.
But when interacting with other people is no longer automatically a part of your day-to-day, how do you combat the blues? Here are some tips from the experts.
Make Socializing Your Work From Home Job
If your job doesn’t provide socialization, Dean says you can make socializing part of your job. In fact, it might even be an essential part.
"Choose to reinforce the belief that meeting with friends, being social, and engaging in hobbies or areas of interest, is a crucial part of being healthy enough to do your job well, and ensure your longevity in your career,” Dean says. "These moments of connection are the very things that stave off burnout, reinvigorate our productivity, and decrease negative emotions that bog us down.”
In other words: Meeting your friends for lunch isn't slacking. It's boosting your productivity!
Schedule A Walk And Talk When You Work From Home
One of the things that contribute to feeling down — including exacerbating loneliness — when you work from home is the decreased physical exercise. Cristina Roman, a certified life coach and productivity consultant at Pique Coaching, suggests getting some fresh air — and some socialization — by turning a phone meeting into a “walk and talk.”
“Turn a scheduled phone call into a walking meeting so that you can get some fresh air and get your blood pumping,” Roman tells Bustle. “I recommend asking the other person if they’re comfortable with you taking the call while on a walk, then putting in headphones that don’t pick up a lot of background noise and pulling up Evernote so that you can jot down any action items or ideas as you walk.”
Arrange Remote Coworking Sessions When You're Working From Home
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t have coworkers! Welcome to the beautiful age of the video call conference, friends.
“Get a group of friends or coworkers together on Zoom video and set mutually-agreed upon rules,” Roman says. “Then, do a quick round robin where you each share what result you’ll have by the end of an hour. Set a timer for 60 minutes, mute yourselves, and go heads down for the hour, checking in at the end for accountability. Repeat as needed.”
Create Water-Cooler Convos From Your Home Office
One of the advantages of working in an office is the ability to casually chat with the people around you. With a little bit of planning, you can recreate those conversations when you work from home.
"Instant message or video call a colleague you haven’t had a chance to chat up with in real life for awhile," marriage and family therapist Michelle Lozano, LMFT, tells Bustle. "This can check two boxes of keeping you socializing, but also keeping up with connections that are valuable. My partner who is a consultant that frequently works from home calls these 'water cooler convos.'”
And, Lozano adds, "Use video calls over voice calls. Expressive behaviors during interactions make a conversation more real."
Switch Up Your Work-From-Home Setup
Another great thing about working from home? It doesn’t always have to be from home. If you’re the kind of person who just really needs some social time during your work day, there are solutions beyond your kitchen table.
"If you don't want to work 100% on your own, switch up your schedule and work from a coffee shop or co-working space," Eleni Cotsis, talent acquisitions and remote experience manager for ALICE, a company that is 70% remote, tells Bustle. "Coworking spaces can be great to meet other professionals and have that social component of an office.”
Whether working from home is a temporary situation or a long-term career shift, it's important to make time to see other people. Humans are social animals. We don't do well in isolation! And even if your most regular coworker is your cat, you can still get all the social time you need.
Cristina Roman, a certified life coach and productivity consultant at Pique Coaching