While working from home has its benefits, you may also feel more isolated. Approximately 43% of remote workers have feelings of isolation and loneliness when compared to 25% of office based employees. Feeling lonely can be a normal part of the work from home journey but starting a hobby, meeting up with friends or just talking about how lonely you feel can be sure fire ways to counter feelings of loneliness.
Work at least one day per week outside of your home
If you can, try to work away from the house at least one day per week. You could go to a co-working space, a coffee shop or a local library. If the weather is good, you could even try working from your local park. This will give you a change of scenery and a chance to be around other people. Perhaps you have a friend or colleague who also works from home. You could bring them with you so you can work together. Even if you aren’t speaking to the people around you, you might find that just being out of the house and around other people can help you to feel like part of a community.
Use video chats and phone calls
Communicating via email can sometimes get frustrating when things are miscommunicated or misunderstood. If you’re already feeling lonely while working from home, this will only increase feelings of isolation. Try to keep in touch with your colleagues as much as possible. They are likely working from home too and so this will benefit their wellbeing as well as your own.
Book in video calls or pick up the phone instead of emailing. This will help you to feel more connected than email or chat. It’s also easier to brainstorm and discuss ideas.
Also, try to make time to socialise virtually with your colleagues, where you have the chance to talk about non work-related things too. For example, you could set up a virtual coffee break or “watercooler” chat. Have a look at the links below for advice on setting these up.
You could set up a video conference over lunchtime as well. You might also want to arrange virtual social events outside of work hours, such as a Friday evening virtual happy hour, a monthly Zoom book club or crafting club.
Schedule in plans after work when you’re feeling isolated
Try to make plans in advance for when you’re going to socialise with friends and family members and make it a priority. You might want to plan it in at times you’re feeling lonelier than usual, for example after a day with little interaction. The boundaries between work and personal life can become blurred while working from home. Making plans to get dinner or go for a walk with a friend after work will help you to sign off and get out of the house on time, preventing you from getting burnt out.
Take regular breaks
If you’re feeling lonely, you may find yourself working more to distract yourself. However, making time for breaks is important to help manage feelings of stress and to improve your productivity. Take regular screen breaks. Even just 5 to 10 minutes every hour can be really helpful. Make sure you take your lunch break each day and away from your screen if possible.
You might want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take breaks. During this time, get up, stretch your body, have a drink. You could even walk outside for a few minutes. Spending time in green spaces can be really beneficial for our mental health.
Take advantage of flexibility
Many people have found their schedules are more flexible while working from home. Take advantage of the opportunity to build in time for extra socialising during the week. This could be going for coffee or breakfast with a friend, or spending more time with your children before dropping them off at school, for example. The idea is to think about ways you can socialise during the work week that you wouldn’t be able to do if you were working in the office.
Try group fitness classes
Try a group fitness class for the added benefit of improving your mood while also improving your fitness. This will also give you the opportunity to get to know some new people. Find fitness activities/groups and classes near you.
Remember, if you're struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns. Your colleagues probably feel the same as you. Ask how they're doing and whether there are ways you can support each other.