Recently on Notable we discussed the pros and cons of working from home. The pro column contained important points such as not having to commute, increased flexibility, and saving time and money. The con column however, featured one very significant aspect that we thought needed further discussion: Isolation. While many jobs today allow for some mix of working in-office and from home, some professions don’t have such an option, as there simply is no office. With the virtual world growing larger by the minute, those in professions such as writing, real estate, marketing or sales may not have the option of “going into the office.” People in these positions might rarely, or possibly never, meet their bosses or colleagues. Working from home often means working on the web, communicating via phone and email only, and possibly staying in your home for days at a time. Due to these facts, people who work from home on a full-time basis face particular challenges, with isolation topping the list.
Tips for dealing with isolation:
Take a break!
It may sound simple, but those who do not have a boss telling them that it’s time to take a break, or colleagues inviting them out for lunch, may forget to check the clock. We all know how time can fly when we get into a productive zone, especially for those working alone at home. While we may not want to stop during these periods, working through lunch hour may actually slow us down in the long run, as fatigue is sure to set in. To ensure both energy and mood levels stay up, we must make an effort to take breaks. Go outside for a quick walk. Make regular lunch plans with a friend who works nearby. Have a coffee on your front step. Just make sure you physically remove yourself from your desk and go somewhere where you will be amongst other people.
Take the office elsewhere. Working from home doesn’t have to be so literal. Again, due to our virtual flexibility, a laptop, tablet, and/or smart phone may be all that is needed to get the day’s work done. Set up shop in a busy coffee house. Work from a campus library. Even moving to your sunny balcony or deck can help fight feelings of isolation. It’s amazing how a simple change of scenery can rejuvenate and re-motivate.
Make the most of your weekends. People who work from home often feel that they are “always on.” Seeing the door to your office, or the computer sitting on the table, or hearing your phone ringing and beeping during off hours, can keep your mind on the job. Do as the office dwellers do and put work out of your head come weekends. Make plans outside of the house with people from different areas of your life. Dress up, and enjoy yourself.
Becoming isolated from the outside world due to working from home may not only lead to negative mental and physical issues, but can also hinder your work. Experiencing the world, meeting new people, engaging with nature, makes humans better workers. Your creativity and productivity depend on your daily experiences, so make that effort to experience them.