Your long term dream may have been to work from home but reality has hit, you are suffering from a severe case of cabin fever and you keep refreshing your email every five seconds, desperate to connect with someone.
You are decidedly lonely and miss having lunch with your colleagues, Friday night drinks and even that annoying work colleague who had a crush on you doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
So how do you cope with social isolation when working from home? Here are some tips and career advice to overcome the loneliness and boredom.
Join an industry association
Joining an industry association will not only further your career but it will give you an opportunity to meet other people who are in a similar or related industry. Industry associations will hold networking events such as education seminars, dinners, conferences and so forth which will give you a chance to meet new people and give you a well deserved break from staring at the blank screen on your computer. And remember, all industry association fees are tax deductable.
Enjoy a change of scenery
If you work in a virtual office, there is no hard and fast rule that you need to be surrounded by four walls and a window (if you’re lucky). The wonder of modern wireless internet means that you can conduct your meetings via the library, a coffee shop, at a park or even at the beach. Instead of conducting your meetings via the telephone or the Internet, arrange to catch up with your clients face to face occasionally to break the monotony and arrange to meet friends and family regularly for coffee and lunch to break up the day.
Invest in further education
While it may convenient to do a course online or via correspondence, going to a college or education facility and seeing your classmates face to face may decrease your social isolation. It will give you a legitimate reason to get out of your home office and enjoy a change of pace and environment. Like industry associations, investing in further education is tax deductible if it is directly related to your job.
Join your local gym
Joining a gym is a good way to increase your social networks, decrease your social isolation and get fit and healthy at the same time. Joining a gym gives you the option of exercising by yourself or engaging in group exercise classes like cycling or boxing. Whether you’re doing group classes or flying solo, you will be surrounded by other people that you can speak to and it’s a good way to meet friends who have a common interest with you.
Walk your dog
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world with over two thirds of households owning pets. While it may simplistic, walking your prized pooch forces you to get out of the house, take a break from work and increases your social interaction. According to the Australian Companion Animal Council, pets help people to build social bridges in communities, acting as social lubricants with neighbours or strangers, or as motivators for walking and use of parks.
Working from home is a luxury but it can soon feel like a prison sentence and very unmotivating if you let boredom to set in, allow yourself become socially isolated and cut yourself off from important social networks. Working from home doesn’t mean you need to be chained to the keyboard. Taking regular breaks during the day will leave you more refreshed and relaxed and in a better psychological frame of mine to start tackling those deadlines.