Remote work can often result in a lot of time spent in front of a screen, working independently and working in a space on your own. Though it has many advantages and benefits, it is not hard to see how remote work and working from home can lead to isolation and loneliness.
The Office of National Statistics also found that levels of loneliness in Great Britain have been increasing. Results from the opinions and lifestyle survey show that from the 3rd of April 2020 to the 3rd of May 2020, 5.0% of people reported they felt lonely “often” or “always”. This equates to approximately 2.6 million adults. Later in the year, this proportion increased over three points to 7.2% of the adult population. It also reported that young adults and disabled people experienced higher rates of loneliness over this period.
With the increased popularity of remote work and working from home, it is vital employees, as well as companies and organisations, take this information into account. Loneliness can be debilitating and seriously impact our mental and physical health as well as our ability to work.
However, loneliness isn’t an inevitability for remote workers, and it is definitely preventable! There are many simple, easy ways to ensure that we remain connected and involved even when working in a remote role.
Here we have compiled a list of tips to help you combat loneliness when working remotely:
- Try to Work Outside of Your Home/Remote Space at Least Once a Day.
There are so many options now for remote workers to choose from when it comes to working environments with co-working spaces and laptop-friendly cafe's popping up everywhere due to their increasing demand.
If that's not for you, or you can't find one close enough, try a coffee shop or local library! Get yourself out into the world. (Pandemic permitting of course!) Being outside around people can help you combat those feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Take Advantage of Your Flexible Schedule.
A flexible schedule means more freedom with your time and is definitely something you can take advantage of. This could involve going out in the morning with a friend for a coffee or taking the dog for a walk before starting work, spending a little bit of extra time with the kids before school or a yoga class in the afternoon.
Whatever it is, take time to socialise during the week in ways you wouldn't be able to if you worked in an office with a stricter schedule.
- Make Plans For After Work.
Think of this as a mood booster. Something you can look forward to on a day when you’ve been feeling particularly isolated. Just getting out into the world again and being around people can help us feel less alone.
You might not get to spend much time collaborating with your colleagues as a remote worker so having a healthy social life is vital. Especially if you regularly work in a space on your own. Reach out to your friends and family, or join a club, make regular plans to keep you feeling connected.
- Communicate With Your Colleagues While at Work.
Communication is key. And with remote work, communication is even more valuable. Since you’re no longer surrounded by your coworkers or down the corridor from your manager, you will need to make more of an effort.
One thing you can do is join or form groups within your organisation. There will most likely be an instant messaging platform your colleagues use to communicate, such as Slack. Utilise this recourse. Try and create, or join, a specific group where you can chat with each other more casually. Create ways to connect socially on top of your working communications by, for example, forming a group for memes or working parents.
This will help build your relationship with your colleagues and is a low effort, easy way to help you stay connected.
Don't be afraid, to be honest. Speak to your manager or your boss, and tell them if you are struggling how you are feeling. Remote work isn't for everyone, and they may be able to come up with a solution that better suits you!
- Take Advantage of Your Lunch Break.
When you're feeling a bit cut off, your lunch break is the perfect time to get yourself out and shake off those negative feelings.
You could take a walk or head over to a local cafe or coffee shop and treat yourself. You could use this time to give a friend or family member a phone call or even a fellow remote worker you know who is usually available at lunchtime.
Listening to a local radio station during your break is also a great way to get you feeling less alone and part of your local community.
Having a happy and healthy workforce is also advantageous for employers, not just for employees themselves. Research shows happy employees are more productive and work harder, therefore treating remote workers well is beneficial for everyone and should be a priority.
We have also included a few tips for the leaders - companies and organisations - that can be implemented to help ensure employees remain connected and content while working remotely.
- Use video conferencing tools
Such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google meets to communicate with your team.
- Check-in with your team
Try to do this regularly!
- Facilitate face to face meetings
Organise monthly or quarterly visits to headquarters or a central location.
- Schedule all-company events
This can help to make remote workers feel included and valued.
- 1:1 meetings
Set up individual meetings with your team - create a safe space for them.
One of the most significant elements employers need to keep in mind is COMMUNICATION. Communication is so important when managing remote workers, as it can help cement healthy working relationships and help ensure an employee's overall happiness and productivity at work.
Now we want to know what you think. Do you struggle with loneliness as a remote worker? Do you think companies are doing enough to ensure their employees feel connected while working remotely? Let us know in the comments.