Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes you get some personal freedom, the choice of what hours to work. But here is often a lack of social interaction, and that’s something that I can struggle with. No more morning meetings, no chats whilst making the coffee, no lunches in the kitchen or nights out with your colleagues. Whilst many people can cope with this solitude, even introverts can get lonely. For the good of your health and sanity, it’s important to have social ties. If you have trouble overcoming loneliness when you work from home, read on for ten ways that may help you.
So how do you overcome the isolation of working from home? Here are the ten tips.
1. Meeting friends
At least once a week, meet a friend for breakfast or lunch. If they have a day job then they’ll have to do breakfast early. That means you’ll be back at home ready to get on with your work early too. If breakfast is not a possibility, take a (long) lunch hour and chat with a friend. This isn’t going to cut into your productivity too much if you only do it once a week.
I am sometimes lucky enough to have friends pop in for a chat and coffee. Whilst it’s not getting me out of the house, it does mean I can sew whilst catching up with the latest news. But I really must make an effort to follow this advice more.
Join local meet-up groups that focus on marketing or small business. This provides not only social interaction but valuable work contacts, too. When I was in Tonbridge I was part of the Tonbridge Town Team and I joined the local Chamber of Commerce. All valuable contacts and it was nice to talk with people and share our struggles or run ideas past others.
If there aren’t any local mastermind or meet-up groups, start one. Or look further afield if you are remote, and travel to a nearby town once a month. Sharing your challenges with others who are facing the same issues can be a huge stress reliever. You are not alone.
If you are a local lady with children and run a business, I really recommend Tunbridge Wells Mums In Business.
Once a week, make sure you schedule in a family day. It may not be possible to be the same day each week, but if you can that will help your children understand it’s a commitment too. Go out after school for a bite to eat, go ten pin bowling, or just a trip to a local place of interest.
Many people start a home business to spend more time with their families, but then end up doing the opposite. Treat your time with your children as respectfully as you do with business appointments.
4. Industry Events
Once or twice a year take yourself away from your place of business to attend an exhibition geared to your industry. you get to travel, make new contacts and have a break from the normal routine. You can pick the minds of like-minded people in your field. You’ll meet people who get what you do for a living, but who maybe not direct competition due to their locality. And great news – you can claim it all on expenses!
This is something Paul does in his day job. Every day he goes for a walk at lunchtime. Most of the time it’s just up the High Street, window shopping, but occasionally something more substantial. A little sunshine and fresh air can help lift your mood and free your spirit. In other words, you’ll feel happier and more energized if you put a little movement into your day.
I even read the other day that jumping up and down can help give you a boost if you find yourself flagging! I may get away with it more than Paul in the middle of his office!
6. Don’t Work Too Late
Working at home means that the work is always there in front of you. That’s why we encourage everybody to have their own room, or home office cabin. You can work till your scheduled finish time, then shut the door and (as much as possible) forget about work.
If you worked in an office you wouldn’t stay there till 9pm, would you?
Personally, due to my children returning from school, I tend to stop when they come home so I can listen to stories of their day. I often pick up again when they have gone to bed, but I have stopped and made a point of following the rules of family time.
7. Don’t Stress At Home!
At times we all struggle. Fact. So if you feel like the walls are closing in on you, pack up your laptop and work at a coffee shop for half the day. If you can extend that to all day, then why not? You’ll be surrounded by people and activity. After eavesdropping on everyone else’s conversation, you’ll be more able to enjoy your solitude again the next day.
8. Social Media
Use social media to connect with friends and relatives. Don’t spend all day on Facebook or Twitter, just every now and then allow yourself a moment to take a quick peek. But if you find it becoming a real time waster, set a timer and when it goes off that’s your lot!
It can also be good for business – post something about your work on your company pages (please tell me you are using these free tools!), share other local business news and they’ll probably reciprocate. Small businesses are often great at helping each other as they understand the power of recommendations and networking.
Make a few phone calls or Skype calls every day. Ideally they will be business related, but if you don’t have calls to make, then as Chris Tarrant used to say, phone a friend. You don’t have to spend long amounts of time on each call for it to give you a sense of connecting with another person.
I’m lucky as Paul calls me every lunchtime (I think he’s checking up that I am working), and my Mum (and occasionally Dad) call me often.
10. Change Your View
Go and sit in the back garden. Visit the local park. If you are close to the beach, why not take your laptop there. A change of scenery can do wonders for your state of mind, whilst still working hard.
Don’t let your work suffer because you’re sitting home alone feeling isolated from the world. Make a plan to get out and do something. If all else fails, use that gym membership you’re still paying for but never use. Most of all – make working from home a pleasure, not a prison cell.