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Remote work has a long list of benefits — fewer distractions, flexible hours, and the ability to travel around the world, to name a few. But while working from home is incredibly freeing, it can also be lonely at times.
As someone who’s worked remotely for over five years, I sometimes miss the social scene that comes with a regular 9 to 5. It’s normal to miss watercooler chat, planning holiday parties with colleagues, or just bouncing ideas off colleagues when you’re living alone and working from home.
While a little loneliness might feel like a fair trade-off for all the freedom you enjoy working remotely, you also want to be careful about feeling too isolated, as that can lead to a lack of productivity or even depression.
Here are a few tips for coping with remote work isolation before it takes a toll on your mental health.
1. Rent a desk at a coworking space
If the loneliness of working from home is starting to get to you, consider joining a coworking space. These shared office spaces can be a great place to meet other remote workers, build relationships, and meet like-minded people.
At coworking spaces, you get an office vibe without a boss breathing down your neck. Plus, a lot of co-working spaces provide cool amenities, including free Wi-Fi, meeting areas, coffee, happy hours, and networking events.
Even if you’re not working with the other people beside you, you’ll find that the simple move of working outside your home once or twice a week helps you feel like part of a larger community.
2. Find volunteer gigs in your neighborhood
Volunteering your time is a great way to combat remote work burnout. Become a member of a non-profit organization in your area and attend meetings and other activities.
The more actively you participate, the more likely you’ll be to meet new people and develop meaningful relationships. Plus, you’ll get to give back to the community while adding valuable experience to your resume.
My favorite volunteer activity involved spending quality time with an elderly person for an hour once a week. After visiting the nursing home quite a few times, I got to know the people who stayed there, as well as the caretakers and other volunteers.
This flexible activity helped me socialize while giving back to others. Of course, be careful not to devote so much time to volunteering that you miss work deadlines or meetings!
3. Take a mid-afternoon break to unplug
Take advantage of the flexibility of your schedule to do something that charges your batteries. Schedule a midday cooking class or go to the gym to take your mind off of work.
While there are plenty of hobby videos available online, going to a brick-and-mortar class is an even better way to do something you enjoy and socialize with other people.
I usually take a break around 4 pm to go to a yoga class and get some fresh air. Then I come back home and return to work, feeling way more energized and a lot less lonely.
4. Join online communities to connect with like-minded people
While nothing beats in-person socialization when you’re trying to overcome work from home burnout, engaging with some like-minded people online is another way to make new friends, meet potential clients, and form a support network. Join online forums dedicated to remote workers or subscribe to blogs where you can comment and share opinions with people who get you.
I’m part of some amazing online communities on Facebook, Slack, and Linkedln, where I’ve met people who understand how bad loneliness can hit when you start working from home. I turn to them when I am having “one of those days.”
Chatting with online friends who get where I’m coming from helps me get the boost I need and remember all the positive things about my lifestyle. Choosing the right online community makes all the difference!
5. Attend networking events and meetups
I know formal conversations over coffee at an industry event can be uncomfortable. But getting out and about to conferences and industry events will make you feel like part of a bigger professional network. Making work friends will help you fight remote work isolation.
If your budget doesn’t allow attending expensive events, consider joining local meetups based on your hobbies and interests (like arts & crafts or hiking). You can find interesting meetups in your area on Meetup.com or social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
I highly recommend seeking out meetups if you want to stop feeling lonely while working remotely. Plus, you might discover a new hobby or passion you wouldn’t have tried on your own.
6. Set up co-working days with other remote workers
If you’re able to connect with a few local remote workers in your online community or you already know someone who works remotely, invite them to work together at a coffee shop, coworking space, or someone’s home. It’s a great way to fill your social gap while remaining productive.
And if your coworkers are in the same field, you can bounce ideas off each other. I usually organize bi-weekly co-working days with few of my writer friends, and we talk about our goals, achievements, and travel plans. These meetups help us minimize feelings of loneliness as a remote worker while getting lots of work done.
7. Form a social circle outside of work
If you’re living alone and working remotely, it’s more important than ever to plan dinner dates or game nights with friends and family and reconnect with people after a long week spent working alone. If you’re too busy to meet in-person, pick up your phone and call or FaceTime them.
Apart from catching up with friends and family, seek opportunities to meet new people, such as joining meetups, working from a coworking space, or simply striking up a conversation with someone in a cafe or bar.
Sometimes random conversations with strangers can lead to long-term friendships.
8. Adopt a canine or feline friend
“My dogs have been the reason I have woken up every single day of my life with a smile on my face.” – Jennifer Skiff, author of The Divinity of Dogs
Having a fur baby sitting next to you while you work can help if you’re working from home and feel lonely. I have three shepherd dogs who usually accompany me on treks or even to my dog-friendly coworking space.
My pups make me feel good about my life and help ward off any remote work burnout. Waking up to their happy faces and taking them for walks give me daily doses of happiness.
If you’ve been feeling lonely while you work remotely, consider adopting a pet for company.
Sometimes all we need is a “work-ation” to battle work from home loneliness. Pack your bags and spend a few days or weeks in a new city. Or adopt the digital nomad lifestyle if your budget and commitments allow.
If you can’t afford to leave your city, simply Google off-the-beaten-path spots to visit. Take a tour of your home city by visiting museums or heading to a new coffee shop (bonus: you might meet new people along the way!).
Combating burnout when working from home
Working from home is definitely freeing, but it has its share of challenges. As a remote worker, it’s important to build a community of people who understand your struggles and inspire you to keep going.
Although it can feel weird to approach new people, remember that we’re all social creatures who need a community to thrive personally and professionally. That said, remote work is not for everyone, and though connecting with people helps, this lifestyle is best-suited to people who can embrace solitude.
If your loneliness is seriously harming your mental health, consider a different work situation that meets your needs. But if you find the benefits of working remotely outweigh the cons, take these steps to improve your mental and emotional health while enjoying the freedom of working from home.