8 ways to overcome feelings of working-from-home isolation
So by now, we’ve all read up on those helpful working-from-home tips – we’ve gotten into the groove of it, and we’re feeling productive. But after a period of days and weeks, you increasingly notice something is missing. If you previously worked from a traditional office, you might miss the easy back-and-forth of office chatter and exchanging humorous quips with a nearby colleague. Even those who worked remotely on a regular basis may have had the options of going to the office on some days, or perhaps going to a local coffee shop, library or shared workspace location.
Now, with the “stay at home” orders mandated in many countries, the daily confinement of working-from-home (and nowhere else) can create feelings of isolation and loneliness. For some of us, it is not a big deal – but for others, it can be a difficult and even distressing change.
While acknowledging that everyone is different and working situations may vary greatly, we can still share some practical ideas to maintain your productivity, your sanity and avoid being overcome by feelings of isolation while working-from-home. Here are eight ideas to consider – hopefully, some of them may be helpful:
- Use team collaboration tools and video to re-capture the sense of social presence and interaction with your colleagues, partners, and customers. Video conferences, online meetings, text conversations, and phone calls can be a good substitute for those face-to-face encounters you are missing. And remember to change up your media – sometimes a live phone call or online voice chat goes farther than an email or text message to create a social bond with your remote colleagues.
- Be proactive in reaching out, connecting, engaging and interacting with others. Instead of simply waiting for schedule meetings, sometimes it is helpful to have that “virtual” coffee break or an informal chat with a remotely located colleague. You never know, they may also be feeling somewhat isolated themselves and will appreciate your making the effort to interact with them.
- Try to maintain a positive outlook as much as possible. Putting feelings of isolation in perspective is important – after all, they are feelings (rather than “fact”) that can be managed to a degree. Embracing the change and thinking positively about the good things that come with working-from-home may help lessen the impact of isolation.
- Focus on your goals – setting objectives for yourself and actively taking satisfaction in your work accomplishments can be helpful as well. Being less distracted by office surroundings, working from home may help you reflect on your work more deeply, be more creative and engaged, and potentially achieve higher performance than you thought was otherwise possible.
- Gravitate toward sunshine if you have access to windows. An extra bit of sunshine and light, along with a view of nature can make you more at one with your surroundings and give you an emotional boost. Not everyone will have access to this, and local weather may not cooperate, but hopefully, you can find some natural light that can lift your mood.
- Get outside for a break, or at least once a day go for a walk. Again, not everyone can easily get outside or walk about (given local restrictions or situation). But if possible, some change of scenery and fresh air can be helpful to clear the mind and offer a feeling of renewal. If you can’t get outside, then any kind of physical exercise can help you feel healthier, invigorated and refreshed during your working-from-home day.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your “furry friend”, if you have one around the house. Not everyone has a dog or cat, but they can be a welcome distraction and source of mutual social enjoyment when working-from-home all day. Even your goldfish might enjoy some extra attention, you never know.
- Depending on your job duties, sometimes having background sounds like news or talk radio, or your favorite music can create a sense of companionship and comfort. However, experts caution against the habit of working with the TV running or diving into personal social media during the workday – these can be major distractions that will likely side-track your productivity and steal your valuable time.
Even in the best of times, remote working can sometimes present the challenge of social isolation. While everyone’s situation is different, and personal needs for social interaction may vary, we hope these practical tips will help everyone feel more productive and a bit less isolated in the coming days and weeks.