These last two years have brought us many surprises. As of today, May 2022, it is easy to see how a rapid the digitalisation of work has taken place in practically all professional areas, bringing its challenges and opportunities. Working from home is a reality for many of us, and as romantic and comfortable as it may seem to wake up calmly, take 6 steps to prepare a coffee and get to work from our computer, there are challenges that are important to share among digital workers. In this article we want to focus on one of the most subtle, silent and dangerous challenges of remote work: Loneliness.
When we work remotely, without direct contact with other coworkers, without face-to-face interviews, without an informal chat or an unexpected joke in the office, it can happen that we feel isolated, alone and disconnected. Although it may seem exaggerated, we should not underestimate loneliness in remote work, as it can be the source of other problems that affect our performance and well-being.
In fact, according to renowned doctor Douglas Nemecek, loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, which makes it even more dangerous than obesity.
Have you felt unmotivated, sad, with doubts about what the real objective of your work is? Does it demoralize you not to see the real results of your effort, without people to shake your hand, say thank you looking into your eyes and celebrate the joys with you? Do you miss the laughter at work, the sharing of challenges and the psychological stress of deadlines?
It is essential to recognize if we have suffered from any of these silent frustrations, in order to understand them and face them.
We are sharing some tips that, based on our experience, seem effective to overcome these difficulties derived from the feeling of loneliness of working remotely.
First of all, remember what were the reasons why you decided to work remotely. How did you imagine it would be? What advantages and benefits made you take the leap to this new reality? Our advice is that you never forget the original impulse of your decision, and that at the beginning of the season, you give yourself some time to connect and understand the wins and trade offs you feel ok with. On the contrary, if the pandemic situation forced you to work from home, then it is possible that this unexpected and forced loneliness has become a real challenge for you. We invite you to read these lines with relief, curiosity and empathy, because in case you did not know, what you are feeling is completely normal
Don't be alone, look for your community
Second, you must keep in mind that, in most cases, nobody prepares us for long working hours alone. A computer screen and a phone call will hardly replace the human warmth that comes from meeting in person.
As humans, we thrive interacting, socializing, and sharing closely with others, and feeling lonely threatens our basic need of belonging to a group.
Our advice is if you realize that “you are alone”, try to take action in this regard, either ensuring your dose of socialization before or after work, or during it.
The community of people that work remotely like you is growing, so it is likely that close to where you live there are more people working remotely from a coworking or shared offices. Find the place where you can find people who understand you and are willing to share your successes and learnings.
Reset your personal connection
In many cases, the feeling of loneliness and burden of the routine is so big that it is convenient to attack it from the root. A shock therapy can be Colivings, especially rural ones, and let us explain why. The feeling of loneliness related to remote work is closely related to the lack of connection at several levels.
Often the desire to belong makes us disconnect from ourselves, putting energy on building a character that fits within the socially accepted patterns in our environment. By doing this, we disconnect from our essence and nature, building based on what others say we should do or be.
Our advice is to see if this feeling of loneliness is due to this division. See if you are too focused on your personal successes and ambitions. An indication is usually spending days without talking (not texting) to a friend, neighbor or family member. If so, going out for air in Nature or living in community with other people can help you get out of yourself to paradoxically come back to yourself.
We believe there is no better place than Rural Colivings for reconnecting. Their spaces are intentionally designed to generate deep relationships between the remote work community and the local one. We encourage you to get inspired by these 9 Rural Colivings in Spain and Portugal, which help participants bridge the natural and community gap in their lives.
Take care of your space and your battery
Often the feeling of loneliness comes when we are burnout, tired and emotionally unbalanced. Work stresses us out and deadlines overwhelm us. This is exactly what needs to be realized: we must take action before we pass a point of no return. There are countless recommendations that experts say can help you make your workday more bearable. From taking regular breaks (many set an alarm to remind themselves of break time), having a space at home dedicated exclusively to remote working, or creating a healthy morning routine. Of course working remotely from the village enables your wellbeing (click here to read how).
Separate your work and personal life
Our last advice has to do with separating tasks and moments during the week, which make your work more enjoyable and fluid. There are many people eager to meet people like you, play sports, go for a walk and watch sunset. Our advice is to look up from your computer when those feelings of loneliness invade you and give yourself a space everyday to do what fills you with joy. Plan the day by reserving a few minutes for that special moment, for that social moment, for that call with your friend or that pottery workshop. Inspiration often comes from diversity of experiences, so don't deprive yourself from exploring changes in your week. Weren't freedom and autonomy two of the reasons why you chose remote work? Go for them then!
We hope that after reading this article, the feeling of loneliness in remote work stops being so overwhelming or at least you have tools with which to detect and combat it. We encourage you to look at the root of this loneliness and to make resonant decisions that put an end to those days when nothing seems to lift our spirits. A day has 1440 minutes. Let's take a mindful advantage of them!