These days, working from home is an absolute dream for lots of people. The removal of commuting struggles makes work flexible and possibly more productive than working in a company office — as well as letting you hang out with your cats all day. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 115% increase in employees working remotely full-time. But many remote workers struggle with the isolation of spending the day inside and alone. It’s easy to dismiss these complaints as you imagine them sprawled out at home, but human contact is so important in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle where your social life is cohesive with your professional one. Having spent a year working from home after leaving an incredibly social office I found my mental health really negatively effected but didn’t realise why for a long time - because I was living the ‘dream’ of working from home.
Dhruv Khullar writes for The New York Times about the negative impacts of social isolation. Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults that say they’re lonely has risen from 20% to 40%. He discusses how factors such as irregular sleep patterns and lack of social connections can alter your immune system resulting in negative health effects that some specialists would place in the same category as smoking and obesity. Scary huh…
The evidence of social isolation is clear, but what is not clear is how to overcome being lonely if you are working from home. After reading various articles from people who class themselves as remote workers, it seems that there are a few things that you can do to reduce the loneliness.
The definitions of social interaction vary hugely, but individuals who work remotely recommend using a strict schedule to provide a structure to their day that’s sometimes otherwise lost when you’re not following the timings of an office. Daily face-to-face or even just voice-to-voice is necessary to any remote worker that plans on keeping their mental health in check.
Alternatively check out places like AndCo.Life (https://www.andco.life) as a cheaper alternative to co-working spaces but an easy way to help get you out of the house. AndCo.life provides bookable desk space across London with all the necessary plug and wifi requirements.
‘Fleep’ (https://fleep.io) and Slack are also great ways for keeping team members up to date with the tasks at hand while also maintaining a steady flow of communication that remote workers may appreciate. Overall I would recommend going into WFH with eyes wide open as to how it might effect you — and if you start seeing those signs of loniliness, low mood or any other changes in yourself, head out, make plans and don’t feel embarrased to tell someone that you’re struggling with living what many consider ‘a dream’.