Although remote working has become more manageable for many employees and companies across the world since March 2020, it also comes with a fair share of challenges. Namely, the lack of social interaction that comes with working from home.
Even with perks like schedule flexibility, getting to work from anywhere, fewer distractions than the office and more, it’s difficult to avoid the moments of loneliness and isolation that come with this working lifestyle.
A crucial part of people’s social interactions revolve around their job and workplace. We tend to spend most of our waking hours with our teammates and colleagues. Therefore, when you work remotely, that aspect of your social life disappears. Remote working can sometimes lead to greater feelings of isolation and result in repercussions to your mental state.
You might not be especially close with your office co-workers, but face-to-face conversation and communication is an important part of human behaviour. Since remote workers do not have the same access to this daily interaction process, it’s no wonder that they can experience a sense of loneliness.
While you may enjoy not having to leave your home to go to work, especially when you take commuting out of the equation, it can still lead to social isolation and withdrawal. If you are a remote worker, it can be daunting to go for days without having sincere face-to-face interaction with a person.
With this in mind, here are a couple of tips to help combat social isolation while working remotely.
Create an ‘Unplugging’ Ritual
Another common drawback of remote work that contributes to isolation is not getting away from work. Usually, when you work from home, it is more difficult to shut down your system and leave the ‘office’. In fact, 22% of remote workers stated that ‘unplugging’ from work is their topmost concern.
Creating work-life boundaries is crucial for being able to unplug after work and enjoy well-earned personal time. Without this dividing line, you may find yourself being exhausted by work and eventually cut off from family/friends and miss out on your leisure time.
To steer clear from this problem, create an ‘unplugging’ ritual for yourself. This may be an activity like exercise or meditation that you engage in at the end of your work day to switch off, or a commitment to spend family time every evening, or a self-imposed curfew on answering emails after a certain time; whatever works for you.
Talking About More Than Just Work
There is a habit—especially in remote working culture—that the communication between associates is less social and more formal. Texting and emailing are a great way to keep a line of contact open while completing a project, but how does it work when you want to have more of a social relationship with work colleagues?
For this particular dilemma the answer is simple: Start sharing a little more.
Having a safe zone to talk about your personal life and how you’re coping – and being supported by your work community to do so – goes a long way towards feeling more connected to the other people in the office.
The basic act of discussing a TV show, or sharing a funny story about your pet, or swapping cooking tips can help you and your colleagues bond. And the next time you need to talk to a co-worker while working from home, you can start the conversation by discussing remote work loneliness to let them know they are not alone!