With the global workforce being forced to go remote, the traditional office can seem like a thing of the past. Sure, working from home gives you that much-needed flexibility, but there is a downside to it that is very real and can’t be ignored. It is loneliness.
You realise it’s been weeks since you stepped into the office, met your friends or even had human contact and it makes you feel isolated. Luckily, there are steps you can take to combat this loneliness if you work remotely. Here are ten tips (in no particular order) that will help you out if and when you get hit with the blues –
Schedule virtual catch-ups
Technology is a great way to interact with people in these tough times. With lockdown restrictions still in place in some capacity, arranging virtual catchups can be a great way to switch things up. Whether it’s a brainstorming session with your team or a virtual adult beverage catch up with your friends, schedule a video chat a couple of times a week, and you’ll instantly see a mood-lift. However, try to not over-do these calls as they can exhaust you and lead to the dreaded video call fatigue.
Share your emotions
Your team is probably going through the same experience during this lockdown. Sharing your feelings and emotions about the current situation will help you build connections and make you feel less lonely. Of course, you don’t want your team to see you in a disastrous collapse. If you’re feeling low or isolated, speaking of your feelings with a teammate will probably leave you feeling better and perhaps encourage them to do the same. However, bear in mind to never complain about little things if you know you’re in a better position than somebody else on your team.
Think of how you are helping others
This is a big one. Psychology says that what you get is a direct result of what you focus on. If you only focus on getting work done, your work life will become only about tasks and deadlines. Instead, try to train your mind to see the positives. Think of how you’re helping a particular person by doing those tasks. Rather than thinking “I have to send this over to my team by 5 pm”, think “This bit will really help my team start this project” or “They are going to love this!”. Focusing on the positives will remind you that you’re an essential part of your team.
Express gratitude more often
Here is the neuroscience behind gratitude – when we express or receive gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters that make us feel ‘good’. Therefore, the emotion of gratitude can be extremely healthy for our mind and body. Do not shy away from saying thank you, even if it is via email. This not only makes the other person feel acknowledged but is also secretly putting you in a good mood.
Schedule virtual team-building activities
Working from home can sometimes make the home-life a bit boring, especially if you cannot meet your friends and colleagues. A great way to cure boredom and loneliness is by scheduling fun team building activities every week to get your team together virtually. From online yoga classes and coffee catchups to book clubs and webinars, there is so much you can do as a team!
Use the right communication tools
Like we mentioned earlier, communication is vital to keep loneliness at bay. Being unorganised and using the wrong tools can cause team members to feel secluded. For example, if you have a problem at hand that needs a solution, it is best to jump on a video call. If you do this via email or messages, you’ll soon grow frustrated with the process. If you’re already feeling lonely as a remote worker, the wrong communication tools can just add to these negative feelings.
Make time for a social talk during meetings
Virtual meetings often miss that element of social talk that usually comes very organically in the office. While jumping right into it may seem great to the manager, it is, however, counterproductive. Allow for social talk either before or after a meeting. This way, you’re not only working but also cheering people up by talking to them about their day. A mere 5 minutes of socialisation at every meeting can be a great stressbuster.
Switch off after work
We recently conducted a study where we asked remote workers to name the obstacles they faced. The top answers? 50.5% of these individuals struggle with switching off after work, and 33.3% find it hard to communicate. Working from home requires us to spend all of our time online. Therefore, it is very crucial to do whatever you enjoy to unplug and bring joy to your day. Go for a walk, water your plants, or even practice a few stretches!
Be kind to yourself
Practicing self-kindness remains underrated to this day. Blaming yourself when you feel lonely and isolated will not help in any way. Self-care and kindness go way beyond a few face packs. It is loving yourself and being kind to yourself, no matter what. Limit the hurtful talk, try not to make self-deprecating jokes, and generally give yourself a break. If you’d like to know how you can indulge in small ways of self-care, here is a blog article that will help you out.
Remember that loneliness is temporary
We all have those days (and nights) when there’s a numbing silence, and our own thoughts seem jarring. In those times, remind yourself that it is just temporary. Even if you are feeling lonely now, it doesn’t mean you will never find people and communities that nourish you. Remember that there is plenty of time for life to smooth itself out and it’s all going to be okay in the end. And if it is not okay, then it simply means it is not the end.
These are overwhelming times. If you feel lonely or need to speak to someone, there’s help. Here are a few free support resources from HSE that will help you out. These services include online, phone, and text support.