Working from home can be incredibly isolating!
There I said it… working from home will sound like a dream for some!
No boss to deal with, no office politics, the opportunity to set our own working patterns that we all once said when we had a normal 9-5 job would be the best but let me tell you as someone who has worked from home for the best part of the last 10 years (5 years of that whilst raising babies) working from home can be incredibly tough!
Spending day in day out in a home office is hard! No I know for most of you reading this you will think I am joking… what could possibly be hard about working from home! It’s not as if we have to sit in hours of traffic everyday or spend time, money and energy making sure that we are always dressed to impress…. and yes before you ask yoga pants have become a firm staple in my workwear wardrobe!
But there are times where I would trade the freedom for the traffic, office politics and set working hours…. why?
Becuase the one thing I really wasnt prepared for when I first started working from home was just how incredibly isolating it can be
And now more than ever in the midst of this pandemic people are feeling that isolation in a different way perhaps… for me like many of you reading this…. I am juggling and just trying to get super comfortable with the fact that I can only do so much and I am far from being superwoman or an amazing homeschool teacher!
To anyone that homeschools their children on a permanent basis I take my hat of to you! I am currently home schooling three girls aged 16, 10 and 8 and I am not going to lie it has been the steepest learning curve I think I have ever experienced…
So, recently I often question that feeling of isolation when I am surrounded on a day to day basis by more people than ever!
But, I know all too quickly they will be back at school, and we will all go back to our day to day routine and be back to working in isolation again if you work from home!
So what can you do to reduce that sense of isolation when everything has returned to the normal we now spend our days dreaming about?
Be kind to yourself
When I first started working from home I found it really easy to fall into the trap of being hard on myself….
I felt that I still had to be at my desk during those normal working hours, and couldn’t take time out to see my friends for lunch or meet an old colleague for coffee! I had built a wonderful business yes! But one where I was a mean boss…. constantly beating myself up for not doing enough and one where I was actually isolating myself because whilst I was doing that life in the outside world still went on… my friends and family still had news to share, events they wanted me to attend etc but I had removed myself for all of that and that feeling of disconnect is something that happens without you knowing it!
Build your connections
This is something that I had shied away from when I first started working from home! I hated networking or getting out and meeting new people (partly because I suffered and still do to a degree with imposter syndrome) so pushing myself out of my comfort zone once a month to attend an in-person networking event was something that made me shudder. But, continuing to get out there and meet people in real life is something that has saved my sanity.
Now I know due to current circumstances that you can’t get out and about in the same way but it is still so important to get involved in online networking!
I spent a long time shying away from any sort of relationship building online mainly due to the imposter syndrome but let me tell you had I not decided to take that leap and connect and create friendships with people online (some of whom I have never met in real life!) I don’t think I would have dealt with the isolation of working from home as well as I do now! These women are super powerful, they are totally rocking the biz world and they have the ability to lift me up, call me out on any BS stories I am telling myself (some of which actually keep me from isolating myself further) and I totally don’t know now what I would do without them!
So, please don’t ever be afraid to reach out to someone online and build that friendship – chances are they oculd be feelign just as isolated as you!
Don’t change who you are!
All those things that were important to you before you started working from home are still important!
I know for so many people I speak to that say regularly attended a gym during their lunchbreak or after work stop that once they start workign from home!
I know going to the gym or out for a walk during the day can feel like you are playing truent from school but you didn’t decide to set up your own business and work from home to not have some flexibilty during your day right?
I see so many women try to fit themselves into someone else’s productivity shaped box especially when they first start out working from home! It is OKAY to set your own rules and schedule! Productivity is totally personal!
Getting outside, connecting with others, meeting people is essential to combating the isolation and your mental health and your business will flourish because of it!
One thing that is now more apparent to me than ever is for a long time I chose to feel isolated — I know crazy right! I chose to be chained to my desk, to miss out on friends and family and to not embrace the freedom that working from home can provide! But, on those occasions where the isolation sets in and I think if I have to spend another moment talking to myself and staring at the same four walls I know that the lessons I learned when I first started working from home have allowed me to recognise when I need to be kind to myself, reach out to those connections or get out in nature and just explore… maybe they can help you to kick that feeling to the curb too!