Independence or Isolation: The Fine Line to Tread When Working from Home

Remote workers would agree that there’s a certain degree of freedom you get when working from home. You’re free from commutes, the distractions of an open office plan, and coffee breaks that could run long. 

However, there are always two sides to every coin. Besides being independent, remote workers can also feel isolated. Without colleagues to physically interact with, it’s typical to feel cut off from others. 

The fine line between independence and isolation can get blurry. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to walk on it, push through, and maintain balance. Here are some tips to help you succeed when working from home:

Find Yourself a Comfortable Spot to Work In 

To achieve a high level of productivity, you should be in an environment that allows it. Try to have a dedicated space for work and leave it when you’re off the clock. Avoid working on the bed or couch. Otherwise, it could feel like you’re “losing space for relaxation”.

If you live alone, it’s easier to find a dedicated work area. Remember also that working from home gives you the freedom to design your own space. Add inspiring office accents and greenery that can help brighten up the mood.

Make Plans After Work When You’re Feeling Isolated

If you don’t get much time socializing with your teammates, consider meeting up with friends or relatives whenever you’re feeling lonely. When you make plans for after-work meals or drinks, you’re also encouraged to finish work on time or avoid overworking and feeling exhausted. The simple act of going out helps you draw the line between work and personal hours. 

Consider Working Outside Your Home

Many companies are thinking of adopting the hybrid work model for good reasons. They care about optimizing operations without dismissing what employees need: the focused, independent time at home and the social aspect of the office.

Working in the same environment, you’re not only at risk of being isolated. You may also lack the outside stimulation necessary to innovate. Face-to-face interactions are indeed helpful in generating new ideas and creative solutions.

Working outside your home once a week or on certain days every month can help ease loneliness and boost motivation. Match your schedules with colleagues and work in the office together. You can also consider working at a local coworking space, a coffee shop, a library, or even at the park (if you have a power bank strong enough to charge your laptop). 

Think About How You Communicate 

Sometimes, internal factors could affect one’s feelings of isolation and loneliness. Introversion, shyness, and lack of confidence, when allowed to take over, can lead to self-isolation even if you want to engage with others.

Assess any internal factors that may be hindering you from reaching out to others and address them. Focus on listening so you can build on what others are sharing or practice sharing your opinion. Slowly ease out of your comfort zone by setting small communication goals. 

Use Tech to Your Advantage 

A good substitute for face-to-face encounters is attending online meetings and making the most of them. Focus on others and what they say. This will help you stay present, reflect on what’s being said, and engage in the conversation. 

If you and your team miss the fun breaks or water cooler conversations, set up virtual happy hours using video conferencing tools. Or, if you find comfort in working alone but don’t do well in complete silence, tune in to a radio station that combines your music tastes and a little talk. When you’re doing tasks that don’t require intense focus, this background noise could help you feel less alone.

Of course, take advantage of tech even outside working hours. Use them as well to reconnect with friends and family members. With many apps at your disposal, you can always have a game night, an online reunion, a movie night, or even a virtual story time with kids. 

Working at home and independently, you’re given a chance to experience freedom. But it doesn’t have to come at a cost. With these tips, you could keep loneliness at bay and maintain productivity. 

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