Working from home is seen as a goal for many people around the world.
There’s a perception that people who work from home work when they fancy it, and do so in their pyjamas. With loungewear sales soaring, perhaps they’re right.
There’s a lot more to working from home than meets the eye, though, and some people are left feeling lonely at the reality of it.
A recent report into the UK’s work/life balance, by Legal and General, found that 36% of people found taking work home to be the main cause of their poor work/life balance.
But, what happens if your work is at home all the time?
“I work with a lot of people who struggle with loneliness because of working from home.” Psychotherapist, Christine Elvin, explains.
“For some people, working from home is hugely beneficial. It allows you to work to your own hours and rules. For others, it feels extremely isolating.”
Legal and General’s research into our working behaviours certainly backs up Christine Elvin’s findings.
The research found that 50% of people who work from home found their mental health improved as a result.
If you are part of the other half of people struggling with the lack of social interaction working from home brings, there are some things you can do to offset the impact.
Use the flexibility
Research has found that 41% of people who work from home have noticed an improvement in their family relationships.
One of the key reasons to work from home is because of the flexibility. Yet, many of us feel guilty about shying away from the 9-5.
Working from home seems like a good opportunity to say yes to some of the things you’d otherwise have to miss out on because of work.
Leave the house
Just because you technically work from home, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to leave once in a while.
Award-winning coach and business mentor, Anna Parker-Naples, credits “getting fresh air” as a key component in overcoming her isolation.
“In all honesty, working from home can be lonely. I have experienced feelings of isolation, low mood and feeling stuck.”
“This is the reason we bought our dog - so that I would get out of the house, get fresh air, exercise and speak to other people.”
The idea of networking might conjure up images of stale sandwiches and awkward conversations, but networking when you work from home is an altogether different experience.
“As an introvert, I’m conscious to keep connected.” Best-selling author and coach, Alison Callan, admits.
“I work out of cafes when my schedule allows and organise in-person meet ups for other conscious business owners.”
Networking when you make the rules and you decide who to meet. Now that’s something we can get on board with.
There are a number of companies, like The Hoxby Collective, for example, which give you access to a larger pool of freelancers to chat to, but from the comfort of your home.
Simon Paine is the co-founder and CEO of PopUp Business School. He spends his time helping people from all walks of life start their own business and swears by “mojo breaks”.
“When you’re working with other people you naturally have breaks. The phone rings, you get distracted, you might go out for lunch. Now, I recreate the breaks I would naturally take if I were with other people.”
Taking a break when you’re struggling to find your “mojo” is essential to your mental health. By taking yourself away from the situation, you can regain focus and come back to it with a fresh mind.
Spreading your work all over the house isn’t good for anyone, so says psychotherapist, Christine Elvin.
“I’ve noticed that the people who feel isolated or have higher stress levels when working from home are the people who tend to work from anywhere and leave their work everywhere.”
Keeping your work in a dedicated space and “closing the door on it at the end of the day” is very important in separating work and home life.
If you feel lonely or isolated by your working condition, you can visit Mind Charity for support or call 0300 123 3393.