Due to the pandemic, we all have moved our offices to our homes and a new task has arisen: facing employee loneliness when working remotely. Working has many advantages but there are also psychological risks we need to prevent.
In the beginning, many people associated working remotely with comfort. However, a lot of people still feel like it is an unwanted way of detaching themselves from the world.
This especially affected those who are used to moving around constantly, to the social environment of their offices. The first thing people felt was that the loneliness of working from home turned into complete isolation: they feel disconnected from their colleagues and this means team cohesion could deteriorate.
If this happens, it can cause a kind of chain reaction that ends up affecting motivation and performance. Of course, no organization wants this to happen.
To boost employee well-being at work in a digital environment as well as our performance, it is important to have a broad view of working remotely instead of focusing on the disadvantages. This way we can, through daily guidelines, keep our motivation afloat.
Follow these 11 tips that can help you tackle isolation and loneliness when working remotely.
11 tips for employees to tackle loneliness when working remotely
1. Separate environments
Some people, who have two remote jobs, find it useful to use one room for one of them and another for the other. This way they don’t spend much time sitting in the same chair in the same room, there is a slight variation.
If -more commonly- you have one remote job, try and do it in the same place and in a room that can be used as an office. If you don’t have a spare room, try to work in the same place and tidy up after you have finished. Although the next day you will have to set it up again (place the computer, move the desk or chair….), these small details help define spatial and temporal separations between home and work.
Don’t let remote work get in the way when you’re logged out, or let external elements distract you when you are working. This way everything will flow better and you will feel that you are working comfortably.
2. Distribute time properly
If being lonely merges with the clutter, bad organization, no structure to your timetable, etc. stress levels can increase.
Make sure your tasks are properly organized in your planner. Whenever you can, separate the work sphere from the leisure sphere (just like you did when you went to the office).
Distribute your time accordingly making sure you take breaks where you can get up, change rooms, stretch your legs, speak to someone, etc. Be aware of the time you gain by working remotely and use it for whatever you need (including wasting time and doing “nothing”).
3. Take a break from screens
Don’t get saturated by technology. Your eyes, brain, fingers, elbows, shoulders, neck, etc. need to rest from the overload they suffer from being in front of a screen all day. If we are always “online” we don’t rest, and if we don’t rest it is difficult to have healthy motivation both for working remotely and other issues.
Try to avoid technological saturation, spend some time doing something that doesn’t involve an electronic device: read on paper, go for a walk, cook, draw, or anything you can come up with, Try and take small breaks from your phone (for example when you’re walking) or set a time limit after which you will no longer look at your email or apps.
4. Make the most of being with people
Maximize some quality time to spend with other people. Having moved from on-site working to remote working not only causes a decline in our physical movement but to the time we spend with other people.
Once the working day is over or it’s the weekend, it’s advisable not to remain at home as loneliness can creep up on you (it can increase our feeling of isolation). If we want to avoid employee loneliness when working remotely we need to make the most of the time we have to interact directly and in person with people. This will be stimulating and rewarding and will compensate for the feeling of isolation caused by remote working. If you are interested in this topic, don’t miss this article about strategies to combat loneliness.
5. Maintain face-to-face interactions
Don’t just communicate with others by writing. Even if it’s by phone, it is important to not limit our daily interactions to different chats we have with our friends and colleagues.
That is to say, communication via writing is good and useful in some aspects, but we need a more complex level of communication: others (and ourselves) need to listen to our voices, to communicate orally, especially during these times when we are working remotely, it is important to see other faces or at least, hear their voices.
That’s a way of tackling loneliness when working remotely: socialize, interact with people. Moreover, when interacting orally (on a video call or by phone) we open up the possibility of having an informal chat, even if it’s two minutes long, it can be comforting, especially for those who work remotely and live alone.
6. Be careful with what you wear
Although you wear comfortable clothes at home, make sure you vary one element or the other and that you don’t spend every day in your pajamas or a tracksuit.
Vary your clothing and adjust it to the task you have to get done, although it’s in a domestic setting it will make you look more flattering and give you a sense of connection to work and separation from home. Pretend to be an actor who is going on stage, getting dressed helps you get in the role. Moreover, remember that even though you are at home, you are still working: it may be necessary that others don’t see you inappropriately during your video conferences.
7. Suggest having a coffee on a video call
Even though a lot of people are tired of meetings and on-screen encounters, taking time for your coffee break together virtually is a simple way of creating a bond with your colleagues.
Don’t stress and don’t feel like you have to join in. It’s just a suggestion, the event is created and whoever wants can sign up for this shared pause that can give us back a little team cohesion that we lost with the pandemic.
8. Suggest an after-work activity
Similar to the suggested coffee break, but a bit more elaborated. Of course, with all safety measures in place, maybe it’s time to make up for lost time. Now that the weather is better and the days are longer, it can be a good time to meet up outside the house-office, have a good time and tackle loneliness caused by remote working.
9. Suggest a team-building activity to your manager
This would be the same as an after-work activity but within working hours and with an objective for the organization. Depending on the task, the office or the remote working- on-site working policy, you can suggest substituting a general meeting which you do via video call -which can be quite tedious- for an activity which can be just as useful, allowing you to reunite with your colleagues.
10. Remember you can take better care of yourself
A lot of people associate working remotely with having more time: something good had to come from not having to travel from our homes to the office.
If this is your case, remember you now have more time to take care of your health: even though loneliness is there, you get rid of public transport stress, you have more time to sleep, you organize your lunch better and of course, live a bit more relaxed… at least in some aspects.
11. Have more enthusiasm for external activities
When we worked in the office one of the highlights of our day would be to get home and get comfy. Now we are keen on doing any activity which is outside the four walls we live in, even if they are errands, going to the supermarket, the gym or going for a drink. They are activities which were just normal aspects of our lives but now we look at them differently, for the mere excuse of getting some fresh air and sun.
No work format is the perfect way of working, we have to focus on the advantages of each one. If you feel remote working methods are not the best for your well-being then maybe it is time for you to make some decisions.
Ifeel has created an emotional well-being program for companies that can help manage the challenge of tackling employee loneliness when working remotely. You can do this through our program which includes three levels of online psychological help and counseling for HR managers. Get in touch today to request more information.