Remote work opens a world of possibilities for today’s workforce. With the flexibility to work from home or abroad, employees have more freedom than ever before. While it’s certainly liberating to avoid long commutes and office hours, unfortunately, remote workers pay a price for their flexible work schedules.
Remote work loneliness affects nearly every worker at some point, with nearly one-fourth reporting that it’s their number one problem with working from home or as a digital nomad. Luckily, there are ways to combat the feeling of remote work isolation. Here are ten tips to try the next time you feel like you are working on a deserted island.
1. Use technology
Technology companies have risen to meet the rapidly growing numbers of remote workers and digital nomads with tools and applications to create connections. Whether it’s a video call, instant messaging, internet-based phone calls or social media, your colleagues and friends are a simple click away and some of them, like PukkaTeam, offer a virtual workplace that will allow you to interact more much naturally with your team members.
2. Try a co-working space
The peace and quiet of your home office or hotel room might be welcoming on most days, but sometimes human beings simply crave the presence of other humans. We’re inherently social creatures. For that reason, co-working spaces are cropping up all over the world. These spaces allow digital nomads, entrepreneurs and remote workers to join others to work, connect, eat, and recharge in a shared environment. It can even increase productivity to get the thoughts and ideas of other like-minded workers. If you’re part of a team of remote workers, consider meeting at a co-working space a few days a month to reconnect and fight the feeling of work-at-home isolation as a team.
3. Find a “home base”
If you are a digital nomad, traveling from location to location, you may start to develop a sense that you don’t “belong” anywhere. To combat this subconscious feeling of digital nomad isolation, look for a “home base.” It doesn’t have to be your actual home, but the simple act of choosing a location to come back to for a few days to center and reconnect with a familiar environment and familiar people can go a long way in creating a sense of belonging.
4. Network with intention
Thanks to social media and mobile technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues from around the world. Use your social media contacts to arrange networking and social meet-ups when you’re working in a new city.
Post an update about where you’ll be traveling next and invite your connections in the area to join you for dinner or coffee. Digital nomads and remote workers must be intentional about networking, but with a little bit of effort, the result is a wider social and professional circle and a sense of belonging no matter where in the world you happen to be working.
5. Develop healthy habits
One of the best ways to combat remote work or digital nomad loneliness is to develop and maintain habits that support your mental and physical health. If you don’t get enough sleep or eat a healthy diet, it can throw your life off-balance. Habits like a daily walk or trip to the gym not only give you a mood boost from endorphins but it also increases the amount of time you spend interacting with other people outside of your workspace.
6. Try a new work environment
Many remote workers find that their productivity and sense of connection is lifted through a simple change of scenery. It could be as easy as working from your patio one afternoon instead of your office or working a few hours from a coffee shop you’ve wanted to try. Often, a simple break in the monotony of our routines can jolt us out of a feeling of isolation and help connect us to what’s happening in the world around us.
7. Use flexibility to your advantage
One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the flexibility it offers. Provided your boss is on board with it, use that freedom to your advantage. If you find that you are more productive after a long run in the morning, take the run and then start your workday a bit later. If you have a friend flying in from out of town, take a long lunch break to meet up with them. If you do your work well and continue to meet deadlines, flexibility can be the fastest path to defeating loneliness.
8. Make socializing a priority
While the idea of proactively socializing might sound overwhelming to some, digital nomads and remote workers must make it a priority to fight loneliness. Consciously schedule outings with friends and then write them into your calendar as you would an appointment. You’ll be less likely to cancel. Even the smallest acts like smiling or complimenting a stranger on their shoes can open the door for human connections that make a difference in the struggle against isolation.
9. Visit HQ
If your company has a centralized location or offices in varying locations, attempt to visit your office-based teammates periodically. It not only increases your visibility within the company, but it gives you the chance to forge relationships with co-workers through face-to-face interaction and provides the opportunity to catch up on “water cooler conversations.”
10. Find your tribe
Are there other remote workers from your organization who work in nearby areas or cities? Even if you don’t work for the same business unit or team, you will find value in reaching out to connect with them. In doing so, you’ll have a new group of people who navigate the same challenges with remote work.
Similarly, look for remote workers and digital nomad communities and forums online to connect with a brand new network of people that share a common work style. There are usually many events and meetups organized also by digital nomads or expats living there and that you can find in Facebook or Meetup. Take a look at our “Places to Live guides” where for each city we feature we include a list of groups, coworkings and events you can meet people.
If you have a harder time to do it so by yourself, and you’re traveling the world as a digital nomad, you can also stay at coliving spaces where it will be easier to meet other people, or join a digital nomad program such as Remote Year, where you will be joining a group of other remote working professionals.
It takes just 20 seconds of eye contact to make a connection with someone and elevate your mood. Use the tools, tips, and technology available to remote workers and digital nomads to fight loneliness and stay productive.