There’s no denying that remote work is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its own challenges. The most difficult aspect of this might be dealing with loneliness when working from home. Taking care of your mental health in isolation during remote work might sound like a real challenge. Luckily, there are ways to easily help overcome remote work isolation. Keep reading to find out more about it, and to see our comprehensive list of helpful suggestions.
Why is “work-from-home isolation” an issue?
Remote work isolation has been steadily becoming a bigger issue ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. People being stuck in their homes led to people feeling alienated from society more than ever before. These feelings of isolation are directly linked with serious mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Companies hiring remote workers are becoming aware of this as well. Actively promoting better mental health in the workplace is the first step in getting on top of this problem. There are other effects work from home isolation can produce besides mental health problems. A 2021 research published by the APA suggests that remote work isolation greatly decreases employee performance, and leads to less intercompany solidarity at work due to poor communication. This negative effect on the company’s productivity is another issue that proves why this problem is so important.
How to overcome isolation while working remotely
When compared to the many benefits of remote work (managing your own hours, getting to spend more time at home, less commuting, cutting down on office space costs, etc.) the feeling of loneliness when working from home can definitely be overcome. Here are some of our actionable tips on how to overcome isolation when working remotely:
Communicate and socialize with your coworkers
Interpersonal communication is the most important part of overcoming the feeling of loneliness. To compensate for the fact that you’re not regularly meeting at the office, try to utilize effective team communication tools and schedule regular calls as much as possible. While talking about work might have a positive effect to some degree, you should also be proactive in seeking non-work-related contact with your coworkers. Socializing outside of the work context might make it easier to talk about personal issues, like your feelings of remote work isolation. Try to check in on your team members regularly to see if they’re doing well, and don’t hesitate to offer your support. As for solo talents who don’t have a team to socialize with, you can try finding industry-specific communities and groups online. Arranging regular meetups (face-to-face or otherwise) with colleagues who understand your work struggles will definitely help you feel less lonely. You can even organize work sessions with them at a coworking space and enjoy a change of pace in your daily work.
Discover better tools for remote collaboration
Especially after you’re used to them, most online communication and collaboration tools can become too boring too quickly. Try to find different tools to make team communications more fun and engaging instead. Changing the accustomed virtual settings can be a great way to spice up your workday and introduce a new element. We recommend our partner Kosy for a creative and fun way to communicate remotely. With Kosy, you have a comprehensive solution to host remote meetings, brainstorm, and collaborate all in one place–and it’s completely for free! Check out their website to see how they can help Ruulers like yourself.
Turn flexibility into an advantage
In addition to taking action to negate remote work isolation, you can also try to recognize and internalize its advantages as well. Working remotely means:
- Having autonomy over your work schedule,
- Not wasting time on commuting,
- Being able to create a comfortable work space,
- Being location-independent,
which in turn means having more time to socialize with loved ones, relax and take short vacations. Working in any model might become overwhelming sometimes, but remember and try to take advantage of the freedom remote work provides for you.
Choose a different work spot once a week
Constantly working from the same spot in your home office can quickly turn monotonous. Instead, try working from a different spot once in a while. This can be your friend’s house, a library, a coffee shop, or even a park (if the weather’s nice enough, of course). Changing your routine and going outside for a change can help you feel more connected to society, and this can help your remote work isolation more than you might think. If this helps but doesn’t feel enough in the long term, you can even consider becoming a digital nomad, and traveling to different countries while you’re working. The possibilities for nomads are almost endless!
Try out coworking spaces
Related to the previous point, you can try utilizing coworking spaces if working from home everyday isn’t for you. These spaces contain all the necessary parts of the ‘office feel’ that you seek and unique socialization options. Coworking spaces are a newly emerging and popular choice of workspace for creating a better work-life balance. You can research local coworking spaces, or try to start your own with trusted coworkers in your industry. Just make sure that you find an option that fits your needs, and can accommodate your job in the best way.
Plan your leisure time to socialize
When people consider time management as solo workers, separating work and personal times can be difficult, which can definitely enhance the feeling of remote work isolation. If you feel like you’re having trouble with this, try specifically setting aside leisure time to socialize. Making a conscious effort to organize activities with your loved ones and integrating them into your schedule, though seemingly weird, might make a big difference.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional support
Last but not least, you should never hesitate to reach out for professional help. The stigma around mental health, especially in the workplace, where people might think these issues make them ‘bad employees’ definitely enhance the feelings of isolation and anxiety.If you feel like you’re seriously struggling, seeking help is essential. Therapy can be an essential part of one’s support system, and validate some of the dilemmas you’re trying to battle with on your own. And if you still feel that your feelings of remote work isolation are sometimes too destructive, you can make a compromise and try moving forward with hybrid working options instead.
Know what’s best for you
Working remotely, while certainly highly advantageous, also has its own challenges–and dealing with loneliness stemming from isolation is certainly among the biggest of them. It’s important to note that the working world is much more diverse now, with many options to accommodate your needs. You can filter through jobs that best fit your needs, or simply ask for changes in your workplace.