Recently, one of my colleagues posted this update in a Facebook Group we belong to:
“Do any of you ever get tired of your whole work-life being online? I'm starting to think that my nagging depression is related to not working in the real offline world. I'm starting to consider changing to start a business or job where I get to talk to real live people”.
Working from home has its merits. The flexibility to plan your work around your life, not the other way round, the control you have with the flow of your work and the hours you add back to your day from not having to commute further than the stroll from your bedroom to your office (or dining table).
With all these advantages, why isn’t everyone clamoring for this work arrangement?
Working from home has one big drawback that burns out people and makes then profoundly depressed; the isolation or loneliness.
In a survey of 258 women working from home, isolation came in tops as their ONE big frustration with this work arrangement
Working in perpetual isolation is only for a special few. Most of us crave social interactions and being part of a community.
So is there a way to eat your cake and still have it? Work from home without having to deal with the isolation that comes with it.
Here are some practical tips to help you achieve that goal;
1. Go back to the office (on your terms)
If you are working in the corporate environment, you might be able to find a position within your company that has you working from home most of the week and coming to the office 1-2 days a week.
If you run your own show as in own your own business or operate as a freelancer, you could join a coworking space and get the feel of having co-workers around you. Because more and more individuals are working from home and feeling isolated, work co-ops are popping up everywhere.
Here you can work in an office-type environment, getting access to things like WiFi, printers, conference rooms, and fax machines. You can choose to work in these spaces by the hour, day, week, or month for a set fee. Not sure where to find a working coop? Try looking at OpenDesks; they can help you find, share and manage places to work and meet new individuals.
2. Put your local library to use
You have probably heard of people working out of the coffee shop. Been there, done that. The coffee shop ambiance and background noise or music may not work for you. If you work better in a quieter environment and you are not meeting up with clients, the library is a good off post workstation for those days when you feel like having “co-workers” around you.
3. Organize or attend meet-ups around common interests
Go to meetup.com to search for active meet-ups in your locale focused on your interests. If there are none, you can start one. Here is another library tip: most libraries have meeting rooms that can be booked ahead of time for these kinds of meetings. There might be a nominal fee if any to use the library’s meeting rooms.
4. Attend live industry events
It was rumored that with all the remote meeting capabilities cropping up daily, that there would not be a need for industry events. This has not been the case. The reality is that technology emphasized our need for human interactions even more. You get to connect with peers, mentors, customers, and vendors at industry live events which go a long way in minimizing the isolation of working by yourself.
5. Don’t care for the Chamber, try these alternatives
Your local chamber of commerce and the many programs they put out can help you get the necessary camaraderie you crave, but if you find this setting too stiff, or too overwhelming for you, try out any one of these alternatives;
- Your local SCORE office
- Your local small business development center (local outposts of the small business administration)
The folks at SCORE and small business development centers also provide free business consultations.
6. Online socialization
While nothing beats good old face-to-face interaction, online socialization can be a great filler for when you’re unable to meet in person. With the explosion of social networking sites, there is no shortage of online platforms to meet new individuals. A few of my faves are Twitter, Facebook, Mom Bloggers Club, and Social Moms, but if you’re looking for a more niche site, just try Googling what you’re looking for – there’s a good chance you’ll find exactly what you’re searching for.
If you struggle with the loneliness and isolation of working from home, try any one of these pointers and see if you feel better. If you don’t feel better in time, it might be a signal to take your work outside of the home.
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Dr. Bola is a family physician with a fondness for women’s health and women lifestyle issues. She is the co-founder of Healthgist.com; the hub for honest health talk for the busy women.