Remote work can be wonderful.
It seems that people have worked remotely for a long time. People would go on business trips. Salespeople were often remote workers that worked away from the office.
But since computers and the Internet have become mainstream, remote working has grown quickly. And the increase will likely continue in the coming years.
Remote work offers a lot of advantages. One of the biggest ones for the worker is the lack of a commute, which can often be one of the most stressful parts of the day. Another is the ability to control your work environment and limit the number of distractions.
But obviously there are some downsides. A big one is a lack of connection or loneliness.
For many, connecting with coworkers everyday is one of the best aspects of work. Connection in some form is a basic human need. Studies have found that a lack of connection can be a reason for early death.
If you’re a remote worker or are thinking of becoming one, here are some ways to combat loneliness.
1. Join A Community Group
In previous generations many towns were designed and built with a central hub. It was usually a park or community building that was meant to encourage people to frequently meet and interact.
But as the years have gone on we’ve grown into other habits. Remote work is one change. The smartphone and social media is another.
We know that community is important, but it can be a challenge to find the time and energy to join a community group. It can also be difficult to find one to join. Many groups from the past have gone away as people have changed their habits.
Some possibilities that usually still exist include:
- City council
- Chamber of commerce
- Parks and rec
- Rod and gun
- Community improvement
These groups usually meet at least once a month. They offer varying levels of involvement and responsibility. They’re great for scheduling time to meet with others that live close to you and that share your values.
2. Schedule Recurring Events With Friends & Family
We all like to think that we spend enough time with friends and family. One of the downsides, however, to social media is that we’re tricked into thinking that we’re keeping up with our important relationships. But social still can’t replace the face-to-face interaction we need.
I find that I need to schedule recurring events. If it’s not on my schedule then time seems to pass by too fast. These events don’t have to be anything crazy. Meet at a friend’s house every Friday morning before work for coffee. Schedule a happy hour with a sibling.
The important thing is to get it on the schedule.
3. Join A Hobby Group
Golf league. Art class. There are all kinds of hobbies and interests and usually they have recurring events. For me, golf is a really good one. It happens every week. You can join a team and meet new people that way, but usually the league is 50-100 players that are all on the course at the same time.
You get to meet a wide variety of individuals especially if you hang out for dinner when nearly everyone from the league hangs around for a couple hours.
4. Walk Regularly Near Your Home
Winter just cleared here in Wisconsin. And one of the best parts of spring is happening. The neighborhood is buzzing with people. We’re all out in our yards doing a little work, but also walking around. The other weekend my wife and I walked with our daughter and I swear we ran into 75% of the neighbors within a couple hours.
I find that the more I walk the more these serendipitous meetings happen. It’s wonderful to feel connected to those that are closest to you.
5. Visit A Public Place Regularly
One of my favorite shows is Cheers. It’s about a group of misfit friends that spend much of their free time in a local tavern. You could say it was the precursor to the coffee shop on Friends. And then they went back to the tavern for How I Met Your Mother.
Anyway, there is a reason these shows focus on a local meeting place… It’s because these places are key to connecting with people. Friends, family and strangers.
Bonus Tip: Social Media Is Not Connectivity
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth pointing out again… Social media is good for a lot of things, but it seems to be an excuse to avoid making and fostering real connections. There are studies now showing that social media leads to loneliness. It seems very similar to remote working.
The best thing to do to help with any loneliness might be to logout and delete any social media.
Remote work is great. It definitely seems to fit some people better than others. For me, it was been great. I realize that for others it can pose a bigger challenge. And it seems that just about any remote worker is at risk for loneliness. But the items here should help you if you’re a remote worker.