Seven ways to avoid isolation when working from home

Within the next few years, it is estimated up to 50 per cent of workers will be working full or part-time remotely – especially from home. Yet according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1 in 12 of remote workers report feeling lonely. So how to avoid isolation (and feelings of loneliness)?

While working in an office can provide that social interaction, working remotely is, by nature, solitary and isolated. And social isolation is a huge risk factor for the onset of depression.

Here are some tips to help you avoid feelings of isolation.

1. Communicate regularly with your manager and coworkers

But don’t overdo it. Go into your central workplace, at least fortnightly (if not weekly) to maintain contacts and keep up with developments. But avoid sending emails more often than necessary, to avoid being perceived as ‘not working’ or ‘lazy’!

2. Establish your ground rules – separate your personal and work space and time

Make sure your work colleagues know your work times and understand that outside those times, you are not available for work matters (unless it’s really, really important!). The same applies to family members and friends (only in reverse).

And claim your space in your home, be it a room (‘your office’), or a part of the living room as YOURS! But avoid working from your bedroom – that’s for going to bed and relaxing.

3. Take advantage of technology

Face-to-face communication allows you to receive the nonverbal cues during a meeting as well as hearing the words people are saying. So consider using teleconferencing apps like Hangouts and Skype.

4. Prioritise your tasks

What must be done – and the rest. Beware of multitasking. Research shows those who tend to multitask more are actually pretty bad at prioritising their tasks. And be firm with yourself – when knock-off time comes, turn off your computer and phone and walk away. It’s time to reconnect with family and friends.

5. You don’t have to work on your own all the time

Whilst introverts may respond positively to working on their own, people with more extrovert personalities tend to enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy. So if that’s you, try working from a shared office or an incubator space.

6. Make time to meet with colleagues or friends

Stay connected with family and friends. Take time out to go to the gym (a healthy lifestyle is important); meet up for a coffee and a chat.

7. Know yourself (Socrates)

Accept that working from home is not for everyone. If you find it hard to separate work life from home and social life or prioritise and complete important tasks by multi-tasking too much, you might be better off back in your organisation ‘s central workplace.

Dr David McIvor, Director, WorkSafety Pty Ltd and author of “Working From Home Safety Handbook”

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