Humans are social animals. A statement that has always puzzled the introvert that is myself. Growing up, I fit the stereotype of the nerdy writer to a tee. I was constantly daydreaming, buried in some far-off adventure, and it seemed only natural that social ineptitude would follow. Even today, as a supposedly self-assured adult, the prospect of social interaction still gives me anxiety. And having a work-from-home job doesn’t make it any easier.
Breaking the stereotypes
Working from home is great. Gone are the uncomfortable workwear, trying commutes, fixed hours and bosses breathing down your neck. Instead, each morning you can happily anticipate hours of uninterrupted working bliss, enjoy your custom-made office space, and meet your deadlines on your own terms.
But, let’s face it: working from home can get pretty lonely. There are no chatty colleagues, no staff lunches, no quick coffee breaks or meet-ups after work. According to the 2018 Cigna U.S. Loneliness Report, loneliness is rife in workers who do not engage in “frequent meaningful in-person interactions”. And that is certainly true for us digital jobholders. So if you (like me), have caught yourself holding a conversation with your cat, it’s time to have a look at our tips for increasing your human interaction. Believe me, it’s for your own good.
#1 Get out of the house
Whether you are a busy, multi-tasking parent, a spouse who has the house to yourself while your partner is at work, or a (seemingly) carefree singleton, staying at home for hours on end will certainly not do anything for your social life – or your sanity.
What I love most about working from home is that, if you manage your time carefully, it’s easy to schedule a little break now and then. There are tons of useful apps that can help you devise a schedule without affecting your productivity, so there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t nip out for a quick run to the shops to feel in touch with humanity again.
Pursuing a remote working lifestyle implies hours where you’re doing nothing except sit at your laptop. Not only does this carry physical health implications (such as poor posture and obesity), but research also shows that an excessively sedentary lifestyle puts you at a higher risk of depression, anxiety and persistent fatigue.
Besides the obvious physical benefits, joining a gym or finding a walking or running buddy can be a great way to introduce a little socialisation into your schedule. Even if you can’t fit in more than half an hour a couple of times a week, chances are you’re rarely find yourself working out alone.
#3 Join a class
If exercise isn’t your thing but you are still craving company, joining a class can be a good way of meeting new people, or hanging out with friends with common interests. This way, having a work-at-home job won’t get in the way of you pursuing your favourite hobby, and you can also take it as an opportunity for a much-needed break, returning home fresh and ready to get back to work.
#4 Actively seek company
There’s nothing better than holing yourself up at home and putting in a few solid hours of work, but if you are constantly turning your phone off and declining invitations to socialise, you will soon find yourself leading a very lonely existence. Make it a point to actively seek company – meet up with friends at your favourite coffee house or schedule an informal chat with a relative.
#5 Join a coworking space
This is by far the best way of socialising without losing a minute of your precious working time. If the hum of conversation is your muse and you find yourself missing the hustle and bustle of the office, why not join dozens of other freelancers in a co-working space? Coworking is an arrangement in which several freelance workers share a common office space, sharing equipment, wi-fi and other facilities, for a minimal cost. Coworking is particularly attractive for garrulous digital workers who dislike working from home in isolation.
Make new friends!
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