Working from home is great, right?
Well yes – research has shown that more and more of us are working from home more often, for most or all of the week. It cuts down on commuting time, cost and stress. It avoids “office chat” distractions and can lend itself to tasks and projects requiring concentration. One of the main benefits of working from home is the flexibility of your working day.
However… it often also allows isolation and loneliness to creep in.
You may think “I’m not lonely working from home – I have my dog / cat with me and we have a good old natter every day!”
Last week alone, I had 4 conversations with talented independent business owners and home workers who often felt isolated when working from home. Each had previously worked in a fast paced, busy office and, whilst loving running their own businesses, had to find ways to keep connected.
If you are a home worker feeling a little disconnected, here are some tips just for you:
Be social – both on and off of social media! – In an increasingly modern world, it can be easy to think that we are connected simply due to the number of interactions we have with online friends, connections and colleagues via various social media platforms. Whilst these serve a purpose to help us keep in touch with people from far and wide, it’s important to regularly meet up with friends and colleagues offline. A coffee with a friend, working in a co-working space, bouncing some ideas around with a colleague over lunch. Make that date today and stick to it!
Network like a pro – Once you start looking, you’ll find so many networking groups local to you. Many are free or good value for money. Remember to go with a strategy – are you aiming to get more contacts and information, to gain new customers, or to raise the profile of your company. Some great tips here on how to be a pro – Amazing networking – 10 Top Tips.
Work in a public place – a cafe, library or bookshop – Anywhere where there are people! You may work better in a quiet environment or like a bit of buzz around you. Pick somewhere that works best for you. Research shows that even interactions with people we don’t know (a bit of chit chat with the coffee shop patron or another customer) can have a positive effect on our emotional wellbeing – plus there is cake!
Set a routine – whilst the flexibility of working from home is certainly a benefit – this can also mean that it’s difficult to motivate yourself daily (or even hourly) get stuff done. Set yourself a schedule that includes lunch and breaks – and also a cut off time to finish working! When you work from home or run your own business from home, it can often feel like you are “always on”. This way your schedule ensures you do quit at some point!
Treat yourself every day – But only after you’ve completed a work task. This might be a slice of cake, a gym class, a yoga session, walking the dog or your favourite TV programme whilst taking lunch. When working alone, it’s important to celebrate achieving goals.
Get outdoors – The benefits of breathing in nature (or failing that some outdoor air at least!) are huge. It can be tempting to stay cocooned in your centrally heated homeworking space all day without seeing daylight or another living soul. Have a walk in the park at lunch or before you start work – you’ll feel better for it and more focused.
Get moving – Exercise and movement helps depression, anxiety, boosts creativity and increases concentration. But try to exercise out of the house ideally with other people – try a new group gym class or go running with a friend (or your dog).
Work together with a friend – If you have a fellow homeworking friend, why not arrange to work from the same place. Being such focused individuals, you may find you don’t really chat that much but physically co-working will help reduce isolation and prevent you from getting fed up with your own company.
Ending with a quote from Richard Branson:
“We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they at their desk or in their kitchen.” He wrote on his blog. “Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”
I bet you all have great tips on what works for you – feel free to share via comments.
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Liz is a Life Coach and Mentor. She is Director & Founder of Spark Succeed Coaching & Consulting Ltd. Helping business owners, individuals and organisations spark their success through coaching.
Qualified Life Coach – trained in Life Coaching, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and NLP.