How to stay connected with the outside world while working from home
November 26, 2018 / Freelancing / Greg Atkinson
After a couple of months of working from home, some people start to miss the camaraderie of an office. Others don’t, and continue working alone blissfully for many more months. However, sooner or later, even the most introverted and antisocial person must get out and mingle. Because without regular human interaction (and digital interaction doesn’t quite cut it), your isolation will start to take a toll psychologically, emotionally, and professionally. So, while it’s glorious to be able to work in tracks, with Mr Fluffypants at your feet, and your bed and fridge within shuffling distance – make sure social isolation doesn’t become a problem. Here are some tips for everyone working from home.
1) Consider a co-working space
Shared work spaces are becoming increasingly popular. Also known as hot-desking, the basic premise is this: for a fee, you can rent a desk or office for a day, a week, or even longer. You’ll have access to a professional work environment, without the hassle of owning and maintaining one. You’ll also be surrounded by other professionals, and all the networking and collaboration opportunities that entails (which we discuss in more depth in our co-working space post). Many co-working offices also have on-site cafés and restaurants, so caffeine and snacks are within easy reach.
With a range of flexible contracts, you can bounce between a few places in your hometown for variety, or find a temporary base while travelling, making contacts all over.
2) Catch up during lunch
Instead of having a sad sandwich (or sadder still, a few dry crackers) for lunch, catch up with some friends or professional contacts. Rest periods and good nutrition are vital for keeping your mind and body healthy. And if you can combine those with some socialising, so much the better. Use the Nearby feature on Kalido to check who’s around, then invite someone for a spontaneous outing. Or use the free chat and call features to schedule something in advance.
Lunch is usually a more casual affair than dinner, so won’t eat into your budget as much (more tips on how to avoid spending frivolously in this post). You can also invite someone over and whip up a homemade soup or salad. The informal environment works wonders for getting people to let their guard down, and really get to know each other. So, use your lunch hour (yes, you should be taking one even if you work from home) to catch up with friends, family, colleagues, or clients. If you’re lunching with a professional contact, just remember the unwritten rules of business dining, and you’ll be fine.
3) Join interest and sports clubs
One danger of working alone is the increased possibility of stagnation. Without people to bring you new information and stimuli, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. This could affect both your professional and personal life. For the former, seek out other people in your field regularly. Many industries have preferred watering holes where you’re guaranteed to find someone you know or want to know any day after work. Again, the Nearby feature comes in very handy. Or reach out to your industry friends through your Kalido networks (more on this later) and ask where the next gathering is taking place. Or the next conference, for that matter.
On the personal front, there are clubs and organisations for everything from chess, to reading (check out our Reading Series), to French cooking, to samba, to dog walking. And lots more besides to keep you interacting with other people.
4) Meet with clients and collaborators in person
Even with super fast and super efficient remote working tools, nothing quite beats face-to-face interactions for developing rapport. As we noted in our ‘power of a good handshake’ blog, there’s something about being in someone’s physical space, and looking them in the eye, that helps you develop a connection no amount of screen time can.
One of the reasons you decided to work from home in the first place might be the joy of conducting most of your work through emails. And though emails are great for routine communications, face-to-face meetings are 34 times more successful! Which means that if you’re interested in making and maintaining good relationships (and relationships are after all the cornerstone of any successful business), you should be meeting up in person on a regular basis.
5) Join a Kalido network
Kalido networks exist for many industries, companies, organisations, academic institutions, co-working spaces, and interests. Anyone can create one, and administrators are usually more than happy to welcome new members.
Members can see each other’s profile, including current location, skills, and interests. Members can also ask each other for recommendations, or introductions to interesting people. Having a shared contact break the ice is a great way to make new, trusted connections.
6) Take in-house projects
Many companies enjoy working with freelancers. In fact, research we conducted suggests that 64% of companies in the UK currently rely on freelancers, with the number set to rise even more. Next time you’re approached for a project, suggest working in-house for the client for a few hours or days a week. Or for the duration of the contract. As you’ll likely have your own equipment, it won’t be too much of a hassle to find you a spot somewhere.
Working in-house lets you see the inner workings of the organisation. You’ll meet the team, have a better understanding of their policies and politics, and generally have a clearer idea of who you’re dealing with. You might also learn a few things from your colleagues, and if nothing else, catch up on some industry news.
Human interaction is vitally important, because it keeps us human. So, if you spend most of the day enjoying your own company, make sure you seek out the company of others now and then.