I love remote work. It lets me be me, without getting in the way of a career I’m passionate about. Plus, the money is nice.
While I took to it like a duck to water, the same cannot be said for other people. Sure, there are benefits but it also comes with quite a few downsides.
If you’ve sat in an office for most of your professional life, switching to a work from home position is a big change. You’ve got issues with communication: forget about sauntering up to your colleague’s desk or nipping down the hall. You have to call them (sometimes on a phone! ) or at least send a message. Even then, they may not reply but you need an answer NOW…
If you work in a globally distributed company, you may have a few time zone issues. Of course, that’s something any half-decent project manager can work around.
You may, however, be very easily distracted by housework. That certainly brings some people’s productivity down.
To top it all off, in spite of the “freedom” remote work brings… you may end up grinding more than your in-office counterparts.
But wait, there’s more!
Telecommuters find that working remotely can increase loneliness.
This affects even those of us who strongly prefer working from home.
I guess I’m a bit of an odd fish in this sense. Working on my own usually means I’ve got far more social energy than I would if I spend every day in an office, surrounding by people. Once I’ve closed my laptop, I can’t wait to get out into the world and spend some good, quality time with people.
However, not everyone is wired the same way. Work often becomes a large part of most people’s social lives. In some cases, it more or less is their social life. I find this very strange because I prefer to hang out with people different to the ones I work with, but each to their own.
So, when you’re suddenly thrown into a “remote” environment and all your interactions are done via email, phone or video call… It can get very lonely very fast.
Since many of us are creatures of habit, its often difficult to break out of the cycles we find ourselves in. Suddenly, you realize you haven’t left the house or physically interacted with a single person all week.
What, then, can telecommuters do to ensure they get regular, healthy social contact? Coworking spaces can ease the burden but let’s be realistic: there might not be one near you. Or it might be ridiculously expensive.
Unfortunately, this means taking your social life into your own hands. Luckily, it’s not as difficult as you think.
Creating and maintaining a healthy social life
The good news is that maintaining active social contact and putting yourself in a position when you regularly meet new people isn’t at all that difficult. It does require that you have a bit of confidence in yourself, though. You should at least be comfortable talking to new people.
So how do you make new friends? Well, you can…
- Join specialist interest groups. Look for Meetup groups in your area and make a commitment to actually attend them. Preferably go to groups centered around a topic that interests you. And yes, that topic can just be “drinking” if you’re as devout a barfly as I am.
- Attending networking events. This isn’t just great for your social life. It can also do wonders for your career. Remote workers tend to be physically isolated and have fewer options when it comes to networking. This is something you need to take into your own hands.
- You can still do a lot of it online. I’ve mentioned how digital nomad communities can help you make new friends before you arrive in a new destination. These online groups centering around remote work and the nomad lifestyle shouldn’t be your only source of networking but rather, they should complement it. Additionally, these communities are great for making contacts in your new chosen destination.
Again, don’t forget to check out the expert tips above as well! Different techniques work for different people. Additionally, consider your online networking/socializing as a complement to getting out there and interacting with the real world.
The Key to Expanding Your Social Circle: Stay active, be patient
Making new friends and connections is a lot like applying for a remote (or any!) job. You could get one tomorrow but it is more likely to take a while. It has happened to me but hitting things off with someone straight off the bat doesn’t always occur.
The key here is remaining patient and knowing that good things are around the corner. You just have to sow the seeds yourself first.