#isolationchallenge


Several major US blue-chip companies have recently announced employees will continue working from home for the rest of the year.  Last month, several news outlets reported Twitter employees can now do so permanently! Sounds like a dream, right? Living in NYC, on any given day, you share the subway with millions of straphangers. The service operates 24/7 (until a recent temp change, due to COVID), no matter what time of the day or night, commuters ride the trains. I would welcome this transition, but can I do it permanently? I am not sure. So many pros and cons. I recognized working from home will be part of the new normal, as employers scramble to keep their workforce safe while operating. 

If like me, you’ve been working from home for the past several months, you will agree, that one of the pitfalls of working from home, is how isolating it can be. When you’re used to working in an office setting surrounded by colleagues, it can suddenly feel quite lonely working by yourself. That’s why it is important to keep connected to the outside world. So, how can you stay connected when working from home? Consider the following tips.

Host regular group chats with colleagues
As you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face, it’s important to keep in touch digitally. Hosting regular group chats can really help. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside specific times to do this. Having a group chat first thing in the morning before you start work is a good idea. That way, you’ll be able to get clarification on any projects you’re working on together.

Take advantage of social media
While you’ll want to limit social media while you’re working, it can still prove useful for staying in touch. To ensure you don’t waste time on it, a good idea is to set aside specific social media times. This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues without it negatively impacting your productivity. 

Utilize video calls
Technology has come a long way over the past decade. You don’t need to be in the same room, to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. Instead, you can utilize video calling software. Whether you use something like Apple’s Facetime or Skype, the ever-popular Zoom, you can feel much more connected to people. The ability to hear and see them can make a big difference in limiting how isolated you feel.

Set reminders for birthdays and events
You can still celebrate special occasions and events such as birthdays, by setting yourself calendar reminders. This will ensure that even when you’re out of the office, you still stay connected with colleagues during these special times. I had a birthday during the lockdown. Since I had to cancel my trip to Central America, I decorated my space with traditional colors from each country, ate like locals do, listened to their music, and watched travel stories. I tried to follow the day’s exact schedule of activities as much as I can, virtually.

Respond to communication quickly
If you receive emails from colleagues and clients, make sure you respond quickly. When you’re working in isolation, waiting hours, or even days, just to get a reply can be tough. So, ensure your colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored by responding as quickly as you can to communication.

Look into networking opportunities. There are meetup groups, business networks, and other opportunities to get together with other like-minded people. You might even grow your business (if self-employed) through these activities. Get out of the house on a regular basis and mingle. Go to meetup.com and get started.

Create a routine. It might not make sense, but having a routine can help to beat feelings of isolation. It’s easy to sit and stare out the window when you work alone. Having a schedule prevents this. You’ll also know when your next dose of human contact is coming. Make a routine and force yourself to stick with it.

Get a pet (if you can). Consider getting a dog. A fish or cat might be more your style, but dogs are more interactive. Your dog will always be happy to see you. The cat might not care. No one will understand just how brilliant you are more than your dog.

These are some of the best ways to stay connected when you’re working from home. It isn’t always easy, but if you make the effort, you’ll feel much less isolated. It can be a real shock to the system moving from office to home working. So, allow yourself a period of adjustment to deal with the changes and adopt a more flexible working approach. Isolation and self-employment, and or working from home, don’t have to go hand-in-hand. With a little planning, you can find plenty of people to share part of your day. You don’t have to suffer just because you work at home. There are options for enjoying regular human contact. Take advantage of them and leave your isolation behind.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

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