How to Avoid Loneliness When Working From Home
Do you feel lonely working from home? For many with social anxiety, working from home sounds like a dream come true. The thought of never having to make small talk with coworkers again might sound ideal.
And it’s true that working alone gives you the luxury of choosing when and how you want to be social. Unfortunately, though, this can be a trap for some with social anxiety.
I’ve worked from home off and on for nearly my whole working career.
In one of my earliest jobs at a publishing company, I was given the chance to work remotely two days a week because I had a very long commute.
Later, when I had children, I switched to freelancing full-time, because of the flexibility of setting my own schedule. As a full-time freelancer, I’ve worked exclusively from a home office.
While I have regular online contact with work colleagues, I rarely speak to anyone on the phone. And as much as I enjoy the freedom of this working lifestyle, I admit it can contribute to feelings of isolation and quite simply a feeling of being out of touch.
When you’re working on a deadline, it can be tempting to never leave the house during working hours. If you don’t do much in the evenings or weekends, this means you might rarely leave the house at all.
If you do find a work-from-home job, there are some ways to make sure it doesn’t worsen your social anxiety or contribute to loneliness.
Try a Coworking Space
Use a co-working space as often as your budget will allow, perhaps once a week, every couple of weeks, or once a month. If that’s not realistic, become a regular at your local library or coffee shop and see if you notice any other freelancers who might like to chat for a break.
Do Volunteer Work
If your job involves staying at home all the time, consider doing volunteer work that gets you out of the house. That could be anything from serving up meals at the local soup kitchen to sitting on the Board of Directors for an important non-profit in your area.
If you want something a little more low-key but still social, consider delivering meals to seniors or walking dogs at the local animal shelter.
Attend Networking Events
Make a commitment to yourself to attend one networking event each year, each quarter, or each month—whatever feels right to your or that you have time for. This gives you a double advantage: a chance to be social and hopefully also to make friends with other people in your field.
Get a Part-Time Job
This might sound like a funny idea, but a part-time job that gives you the chance to meet people, make friends, and be social could help to ease the isolation of working from home.
Make sure to choose something that you enjoy that find fun, because this job isn’t really about the money. Things like working in a flower shop, at the local library, or at a museum come to mind, but choose something that fits your personality and that gets you out of the house. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a job where you interact with the public either; just the chance to interact with coworkers could be the social connection that you need.
Remember when you used to work in an office, and you’d go out for lunch with coworkers every Friday (or however often)? I remember when I worked in Toronto, we had a few favorite spots to get lunch from.
Now that you’re working from home, you don’t have anyone inviting you to lunch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t send out your own invitations.
Ask a friend or family member to join you or have a standing lunch date. A standing date means less planning and work for you; for example, you know that once per month, you’ll be meeting up with a certain friend and have a chance to connect.
Use the Phone
If you just feel like you need to talk someone, keep a list of phone calls that you need to make, and place them during your morning or afternoon (or whenever) break time. This gives you a bit of social interaction without having to leave the house.
Join a Gym
If all you need is a secondary location to feel like you are not stuck home all the time, consider joining your local gym. If this feels intimidating to you, pay for a coach for the first several weeks.
This gives you several advantages: more social connection, an orientation to all the equipment, and a familiar face each time you show up for your workout. You could also join group fitness classes to meet new people and feel less alone.
Take a Workshop
Sign up for a class or workshop to learn something new and be around other people. If it’s going to help further your career or business, that’s a bonus! You could also consider upgrading your education by taking a course or workshop at your local college or university.
Make a plan to get out of your house at least twice a month in a social setting that goes beyond the supermarket. Do something new each month while also having a regular monthly social event. The choice of what you do is up to you!
Do you have any good strategies for when you feel lonely working from home? I’d love to hear how you cope in the comments below.
Related Articles about Working From Home
- How to Create a Zen Home Office
- Stay at Home Jobs for People with Social Anxiety
- How to Make Money From Home