Loneliness and Isolation in Remote Working
Remote Work,  Healthy at work

Got Sick of Remote Work? 4 Steps to Overcome Loneliness and Isolation in Remote Working

Are you feeling disconnected from your colleagues and longing for more social interaction while working remotely?

The shift to remote work due to the pandemic has left many people feeling isolated and lonely. There are, however, methods to deal with these emotions and feel closer to your job and your coworkers.

As someone with a background as a Human Resources consultant and years of experience as a manager in different enterprises, I have witnessed and solved cases of employees struggling with loneliness and isolation while working remotely.

In this post, I’ll discuss my strategies for overcoming these emotions and strengthening your bonds with your coworkers, drawing on both my personal experiences and instances of cases I’ve resolved in the past.

So, let’s dive in and learn how to overcome loneliness and isolation in remote working!

Do Remote Workers Feel more Isolated?

Remote work by Healthy Office Habits

Remote workers can often feel more isolated than those working in traditional office environments. Remote workers could feel cut off from their coworkers, the work atmosphere, and the business as a whole if they don’t have regular encounters with them, such as water cooler discussions or lunchtime interactions.

Also, remote employees might not have the same opportunity for face-to-face interactions or cooperation, which can result in feelings of loneliness and seclusion.

However, with the right strategies and tools, remote workers can still stay connected and feel engaged with their work and coworkers.

How to Combat Loneliness and Isolation in Remote Working?

How to Combat Loneliness and Isolation in Remote Working by Healthy Office Habits

There are 4 concrete ways to deal with these negative feelings and feel more connected to your job and your buddies at work.

  1. Schedule Regular Check-Ins:

One of the easiest ways to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation in remote working is to schedule regular check-ins with your colleagues.

Setting out time to interact with others, whether it be through a daily virtual meeting or a weekly coffee/tea talk, may make you feel more connected and loved.

Experience: One of my female team members, who had been working from home for a while, was experiencing loneliness. She lived in an industrial style designed small apartment, which was located in the busy city center, where no neighbors knows each other, even by name.

When working in an office, she had become accustomed to having everyday contact with her coworkers and realized how much she was missing out on now.

We set up a weekly virtual meeting where she and her team could catch up and chat about non-work-related topics. This helped her feel more connected to her coworkers and less lonely while working remotely.

  1. Join Virtual Communities:

Another way to combat the loneliness and isolation in remote working is to join virtual communities related to your industry or interests. This could be a professional organization or a Facebook group for people who share your hobbies. Engaging with others like in the Drama film ” Dead Poets Society” who have similar interests, hobbies, and vision can help you feel more connected and less lonely.

Experience: A colleague of mine had recently started working remotely and was struggling to connect with others in her industry. She became a member of a virtual group for experts in her industry about Human Resources and discovered that it was a fantastic opportunity to network and interact with others.

She was able to participate in online conferences called “Only HR” and webinars and even meet a few individuals with whom she later forged friendships at the small coffee talks organized spontaneously.

  1. Take Breaks and Get Outside:

It’s important to take breaks throughout the day and get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block. Being outside and getting some fresh air can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in remote working.

Experience: One of my team members was struggling with feeling isolated while working from home. She discovered that taking breaks during the day and going for walks around her neighborhood throughout the wild-life park made her feel more like a part of the outside world, the real world.

She also began fitting regular exercise like cycling at home into her schedule, which helped her feel more joyful and energetic like the new tanked car.

  1. Create a Dedicated Workspace:

Dedicated workspace for remote work

Creating a dedicated workspace in your home can help you feel more productive and focused while working remotely. Having a separate space for work can also help you mentally separate your work life from your home life, which can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation from working remotely.

Experience: Another one of my team members had been working from her kitchen table for months and was feeling increasingly isolated and disconnected from her work. We worked together to create a dedicated workspace in her home, which helped her feel more focused and productive while working remotely. She found that having a separate space for work helped her mentally separate her work life from her home life, which reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Working remotely at your KonMari-style designed apartment or a Starbucks where you can also dine can be a great way to integrate remote work and life, but it can also end up with down feelings of loneliness and isolation, which might trigger depression ultimately.

By scheduling regular check-ins with colleagues, joining virtual communities, taking breaks and getting outside, and creating a dedicated workspace, you can overcome these feelings and feel more connected to your work and your colleagues. Remember, you are not the only human being in this tiny but squeezed world who feels this way, and there are solid actions you can take to get rid of these drowning feelings and feel more connected to humanity like the twin babies connecting each other.

How do you manage the loneliness and isolation of remote workers as an employer?

How do you manage the loneliness and isolation of remote workers as an employer

As an employer, there are several ways you can help your remote workers manage the loneliness and isolation of remote employment:

  1. Set clear expectations: Be sure to communicate clear expectations about remote work, including communication protocols, work hours, and project goals. Clear expectations can help remote workers feel more connected to their work and the company as a whole.
  2. Encourage communication: Encourage regular communication among remote workers and with their colleagues in the office. This could include virtual team meetings, instant messaging, or regular check-ins with managers. According to The Remote Work Report of GitLab, 2021, transparent communication and open knowledge help remote employees feel belonging. 34% of respondents claim that transparency from leadership leads improves their connection to work
  3. Offer opportunities for collaboration: Provide opportunities for remote workers to collaborate with their colleagues, such as virtual brainstorming sessions or project meetings.
  4. Provide support: Offer support to remote workers, including resources for mental health and wellness, access to an employee assistance program, or coaching sessions to help them cope with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  5. Foster a positive company culture: Foster a positive company culture that values connection and collaboration, regardless of where employees are located. This could include virtual team-building activities, company-wide events, or regular recognition of remote workers’ contributions to the company.

Bonus Tip backed by own experience:

One unique example I witnessed in the past involved a company that had a large number of remote workers who were struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness. The top management recognized the issue and decided to create a virtual mentorship program.

In this program, remote workers were paired with mentors from different departments and locations within the company.

The mentors were taught how to assist their mentees to feel more a part of the business looking in the same direction as their peers by offering them support and advice.

Mentees were encouraged to communicate regularly with their mentors, and virtual meetups were scheduled to provide opportunities for discussion and collaboration. At these virtual meetups, happy hour drinks or snacks were sent directly to home for each attendant at that time. This way, there was a wow effect throughout the company.

The program was a huge success, with remote workers reporting increased feelings of connection and engagement with the company. They developed deep relationships with coworkers from many divisions of the business and felt more supported in their job.

This unique solution not only helped to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness of remote work but also provided valuable professional development opportunities for both mentors and mentees. It was a perfect win-win solution for both parties: for the company and its employees.

By taking these 5+1 steps, you can help your remote workers feel more connected to their work and their colleagues, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation in remote working and increasing their overall job satisfaction.

How do you manage stress and emotions when working remotely?

How do you manage stress and emotions when working remotely

Managing stress and emotions while working remotely can be challenging, but the following strategies can be helpful:

One out-of-the-box solution I implemented in the past involved a team of remote workers who were struggling with stress and remote work burnout due to their heavy workload and long hours.

I urged the team to take part in a virtual meditation session, which is very widespread nowadays,  to assist them in controlling their emotions mindfully and getting their stress levels down.

I worked with a mindfulness coach to schedule a weekly virtual meditation session that was specifically tailored to the needs of the team.

The coach led the group through a series of mindfulness activities like eating an apple and taking the time to smell, taste, and truly enjoy it. Those activities are intended to lessen tension and promote calm during the session.

The team members were encouraged to focus on their breath and let go of any thoughts or distractions.

Several team members, particularly my male coworkers, were at first reluctant to take part in the meditation sessions, but as they started to feel that it is working somehow, they grew more dedicated to the practice.

Under challenging remote job scenarios, they claimed to feel more at ease, attentive, and able to control their emotions, which is a leadership skill for Forbes 1000 companies.

Together with the virtual meditation sessions, I also urged the team to follow self-care practices including taking frequent breaks and engaging in a healthy diet, exercise, and sleep schedules.

By prioritizing their mental and physical health, and making sure that they feel my intention in their heart,  the team was able to better manage their stress and emotions while working remotely.

How do you socialize when working remotely?

Telecommuting at different time zones by Healthy Office Habits.

Socializing when working remotely is important for maintaining connections with colleagues and combating feelings of isolation and loneliness of remote work.

Here are two different experiences I had related to socializing while working remotely:

  1. The first experience was a “try and fail” situation.

I wanted to discover a way for my team of remote workers to interact and engage with one another outside of the workplace.

In the hopes that the crew would get along better, I planned a virtual happy hour.

The virtual happy hour unfortunately didn’t go as well as I had intended.

Some team members were hesitant to participate, and the conversation felt forced and awkward at times. It became clear that simply scheduling a virtual happy hour wasn’t enough to foster genuine connections among the team members.

Upon reflection, I realized that I hadn’t given enough thought to the format of the virtual happy hour or the interests of the team members. I had assumed that a happy hour would be a universally enjoyable activity, but in reality, it didn’t align with the preferences and needs of all team members.

  1. In another experience, I was leading a team of remote workers who were scattered across different time zones. I recognized that it was challenging for them to find time to connect, so I decided to start a virtual book club.

The book club provided a structured and engaging way for the team members to socialize and connect outside of work. We chose books that were relevant to our industry and interests, and we scheduled virtual meetings to discuss the books and share our thoughts.

The book club was a huge success.

The shared experience helped the team members get closer, and it promoted a feeling of community among those who worked in various places and time zones.

Everyone may join regardless of their schedule or location thanks to the virtual format.

In conclusion, socializing while working remotely might be difficult, but it’s crucial to discover activities that suit team members’ preferences and requirements.

Moreover, even if virtual socializing might be difficult, it’s crucial to come up with original solutions that are interesting and enable real interactions.

The failures and successes that I have experienced have taught me the importance of thoughtful planning and finding the right balance between structure and informality.

Key Takeaways:

  • Remote workers can often feel more isolated than those working in traditional office environments. Remote workers could feel cut off from their coworkers and the business as a whole without regular contact with them.
  • Strategies to combat loneliness and isolation in remote working include scheduling regular check-ins with colleagues, joining virtual communities related to industry or interests, taking breaks and getting outside, and creating a dedicated workspace.
  • Employers can help their remote workers manage the loneliness and isolation of remote employment by setting clear expectations, encouraging communication, offering opportunities for collaboration, and providing support.
  • Transparent communication and open knowledge help employees feel belonging, which is a crucial factor in overcoming loneliness and isolation in remote working.
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Solopreneur | | I help (Purposeless) Overachievers, Mid-Career Professionals & Entrepreneurs find meaning at work | Wellness Activator | Healthy Living Enthusiast | SEO Expert | Dad x 3 | 4x Founder (Exit in 2023) | Ex -Dupont, Mercedes-Benz