If you’re like many employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, or if you’ve recently transitioned to a remote work environment, you might be overwhelmed with the new realities of working from home. Working from home has the power to improve your productivity, make you more satisfied with your job, and of course, cut down on your time spent commuting, but there are also some downsides to consider.
Notably, working from home by yourself can get lonely, especially if you’re working remotely for an extended period of time.
The good news is that there are dozens of strategies you can use to make your time working remotely a little more connected.
Have Fun on Project Management Apps
The best project management software tools allow their users significant flexibility in how they communicate. You’ll almost always have the power to format your projects, tasks, subtasks, and comment threads however you want. In some cases, you may even be able to attach images, add emojis, or include GIFs.
Communication is important for the success of your projects, but you also don’t have to take it too seriously. Include some in-jokes, images, and one-liners as you assign tasks or include yourself in conversations with others; it’s a great way to introduce levity into a remote team.
Work Outside Your Home (If You Can)
If your current circumstances allow, try to work outside your home at least one day per week. If you’re constantly trapped indoors, in a home office environment, it can make you feel even more detached from the rest of civilization. Common options include going to a café, or subscribing to a coworking space where you can meet and work alongside other professionals.
However, you might enjoy even more benefits if you get creative with your choice in working environments. Consider going to a local park with your laptop, or set up a mini home office on your front porch. Any change of environment can have a positive impact on your mental health.
Spend Time With the Team
Unless you truly work in isolation, you likely have coworkers, supervisors, and clients who you interact with on a daily basis. Your work-focused communications can help you establish a bond, but workplace acquaintances probably won’t make you feel less lonely.
For that, you’ll want to spend more time with your team, outside of the context of work. If you live close together, you can go out for lunch or walk in the park together during your lunch break. If you’re more distant, you can hop on a video conference call and have an informal chat. You can also do something more engaging, like playing an online game together.
Watch a Streamer
If you can manage having a video on in the background while you’re working, consider watching a live streamer on a platform like Twitch. Chances are, there’s someone engaging in an activity you find interesting, whether that’s playing a video game, creating new music, cosplaying, or just chatting with a live audience. Find people with a personality you enjoy, and keep them playing in the background; you can tune in and out as your job allows, and feel like you’re a part of a community at the same time.
You can accomplish something similar by putting a conversational podcast on in the background. Just make sure you don’t choose something so interesting that it distracts you from the rest of your work.
Find New Communities
If you’re working long hours, it can be hard to make time for anything else, but if you’re feeling lonely, it’s important to make time to socialize in other areas. Consider going to a regular meetup in your area, based around one of your interests. And if you don’t have any interests, your first priority should be finding one. Attend meetups for things you’ve never considered before, and open your mind to new possibilities. Most people would be happy to share their passions and hobbies with you, so ask lots of questions and get involved.
If you don’t want to leave the house, you can also find a new community online. Start playing an online game that interests you, or contributing to a forum or subforum within your interests. If you’re polite and active enough, you should be able to find a group of people who engage with you on a regular basis.
Even after employing these strategies, you may feel lonelier working from home than you did working in a traditional office. In some cases, this lingering feeling may never fully go away—but most people start feeling more connected with their new habits after an initial adjustment period. Be patient, and keep trying new strategies to foster your sense of attachment and belonging.