The benefits of working remotely such as avoiding traffic, saving money on parking costs, more work-life balance, quality time with family, self-employment and reduced stress are well known. But what we’re only really beginning to understand are the negative effects remote work can have on people’s wellbeing.
“All-consuming work can make us feel isolated, anxious, and lonely. This is especially true for remote workers, or freelancers,” says psychologist Suzanne Gelb.
The future of work is clearly heading towards virtual, remote working and in a lot of industries, it’s already the standard. So while there’s no stopping it, there are some ways remote workers can better prepare themselves to deal with the stress associated with working alone and stay sane and happy. In the end, no one is doing good work when they’re not feeling well or lonely.
Stay connected and find a friend or other remote worker
One of the hardest things about working remotely, is feeling like you are alone. It can be easy to start thinking it’s you against the world. That no one understands your struggles, and no one can help. But you’ll very quickly realize that there’s a growing army of remote workers out there who face the same daily struggles as you. And they want to chat! Reach out to other remote workers at networking events, on Facebook groups or at co-working spaces such as Regus and you’ll certainly find some kindred spirits. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Have you thought about making use of a tool that helps you with this? Check out Conceptboard, the online whiteboard. With Conceptboard you can not only achieve more efficiency but also do a lot of fun things, such as playing icebreaker games. Give it a try!
Create your happy spaces to work in
If you’re working from home, it’s worth investing in your workspace to make it feel like somewhere you want to be eight hours of the day. Bring in plants, hang up your favorite photos of your favorite people, or stick up inspiring quotes. It might not seem like it would make a big difference, but by creating a happy space to work in, your mood will improve. Check out some amazing home office inspo here.
Find other ways to socialise
One of the key benefits of working in an office is a ready-made group of friends. But for remote workers, that is often one of the biggest holes that needs to be filled. Maybe you already have a close group of friends outside of work that you could invite over for a dinner party, or create regular catch ups. Or perhaps you can find new ways to socialize by joining a regular activity such as a Book Club, a volunteer group or a sports team.
Take regular breaks outside
There’s nothing that a bit of fresh air can’t fix. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs by going on short walks outside. But the most important thing, is leave your phone at home. Think of it as forced no-screen time. It will help you reset and recharge, and is often a great way to help clear your mind and make way for brilliant new ideas.
Unplug and switch off when you are done working
Just because you work from home, doesn’t mean you work 24/7. Have the restraint to stop working at an appropriate time, and really switch off. That means not answering phone calls after hours, keeping your computer away and definitely not checking your emails before going to sleep. If you have clients in other time zones, you may have occasional late night meetings, but try limiting that to once per week.
Aim to speak, face-to-face, to a human every day. And no, your dog is not a human! If you live alone, this means that you have to intentionally go outside and grab a coffee, or speak to a neighbor, someone at the gym or supermarket. A recent study by psychologist Susan Pinker, found that even just 15 minutes spent socializing and sharing feelings of stress with colleagues led to a 20% increase in performance. These small interactions can help you feel connected to the world, and remind you that you’re never alone.
Change of scenery
If you’re a remote worker who’s feeling lonely and isolated, why not embrace the number one benefit of remote work- location independence.
Once a week, or if you can afford it, one week a month, why not shake things up and try out a new work space. This could be the cafe or library down the road, the coworking space in the city, or even a complete new city or country. This will help you look at the benefits of remote working, rather than seeing it in a negative light, while giving you the chance to meet fellow remote workers and explore somewhere new.
If you want to read more about the other side of the equation, check out our latest article about the five benefits remote working can bring to your company.