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7 tips for combating loneliness for remote Workers

By Emily Wood
16 May 2022

As part of the mental health awareness week, this year’s focus has been on loneliness and how to combat loneliness as well as the impact it has on our health and well-being. Feeling isolated or lonely as a freelance or remote worker is one of the more prevalent issues impacting mental health and as more people continue to work remotely, the issue will only continue to grow.

I took to Twitter to ask the freelance and remote working community directly what they do to help combat loneliness and judging by the number of responses – and tips — many of us have adjusted how we work and socialise due to feeling isolated and lonely at some point.

Make Working From Cafes A Weekly Event

As the saying goes ‘A change is as good as a rest’, so if you’re struggling with working from the same four walls you’ve been living in, try working from somewhere else.

Committing to a change in scenery like a cafe once a week and even if you don’t live close to a cafe, a co-working space or a library will still make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger as you work. Freelancer Farrah commits to a change of scenery once a week; “To keep the blues at bay, I go to the gym or work at a coffee shop at least once a week.”

If you can’t make it physically, do as freelance email copywriter, Jess recommends and join or invite someone to a virtual coffee; “Virtual coffee connect chats are fun with a group or 1:1 to meet new people! I’ll even FaceTime another remote/freelancing friend and we’ll mirror work one another on mute for an hour or so!”

As social creatures, humans need social interaction but as many of us are introverted, simply sitting in a busy, bustling cafe is enough to get that human connection hit.

Getting Social on Social Media

Social media has a bad reputation for bringing out the worst in people but it can also bring out the good, and as it would appear many freelancers and remote workers enjoyed making virtual friends and joining in with regular chats.

The global freelance community has years of experience working remotely and often in isolation which is why so many have created their own groups, hashtags and hangouts to meet and get social! Creating a hashtag is exactly what freelance PR professional Michelle Garrett did when she felt her own loneliness got too much; “One thing I did to combat loneliness as a freelancer is to start #FreelanceChat. Now every Thursday at noon, I get to hang out with some pretty fabulous fellow freelancers. 🙏🙌”

Many freelancers we spoke to said they had online friends who they could share client woes, work troubles and other personal thoughts with as well as bounce working ideas off to help them feel more creative too. Freelancer Andy Robinson has also felt loneliness since going solo so decided to join a few different communities online: “ I've often felt lonely since going freelance.I try to get involved with various online communities. #EthicalHour, #ContentClubUK, #FHChat and #FreelanceChat have all been great.”

If you’re more of an introvert, find busy places overwhelming or can’t travel easily to a cafe, social media is the perfect place to start up a new freelance friendship. There are plenty of other virtual channels such as Slack and Discord that are free to use and have various public channels to join too.

Find An ‘accountability’ Buddy

One of the strongest tips when it comes to avoiding loneliness was the concept of an accountability buddy, recommended by journalist, athlete and intuitive eating coach, Pam Moore. Pam shared; “I have a "co-worker"/accountability buddy. We met in a writer Facebook group and we Zoom at the start of our workday for 10-30 minutes to say hello, state our goals and sometimes shoot the breeze as needed. It's lovely.”

It’s a great tip for someone who is struggling with feeling isolated or can’t get motivated every day as freelancers only typically have themselves accountable for getting the work done, and being paid. Likewise, freelancer Allea has a ‘co-work’ bestie who helps her feel part of a team; “I have a business bestie in another town and we co-work on Zoom (often on silent) a few times a week. It’s so great!”

Having someone else to share your to-do lists, goals and general work purpose is an effort-free way to gain a new friend and have someone who can hold you accountable!

Make An Effort To Get Outside Everyday

Outdoor cross-country running in morning sunrise concept for exercising, fitness and healthy lifestyle

We all know how good exercise and movement are for us but for someone feeling unmotivated or lonely, getting the motivation to get out can be really tough. Getting outside for 30mins-1hour every day can make such a difference to our mental health and well-being and if you struggle with mornings, try getting outdoors.

Many freelancers recommended joining gym classes for social as well as fitness benefits so if you’re into the gym or group exercise, why not join a local gym, running club or yoga class. Freelance Writer, Jo Rowan, shared her tip for getting fit and being social; “I do make sure I’m getting social outings for exercise though. My poor PT gets the ins and outs of my work week quite a lot!”.

Exercising helps us all feel much better as the dopamine helps to lift our mood so why not enjoy a natural mood-booster whilst potentially making new friends with people who have similar interests.

Schedule Calls With Friends, Family Or Co-Workers

This was another very popular tip to help feeling lonely was scheduling in calls or social events with friends and families regularly. If your social calendar is already busy, why not try booking a face to face meeting with clients or even work colleagues and enjoy some old-fashioned interaction.

Freelancer Jaime Dill makes sure she checks in with friends and family every week; “I schedule office hour calls with peers and colleagues! I wouldn't be nearly as content with home work life without my constant Zooms, chapter meets and dms with many, many more!”

Scheduling meetings in real life may not be practical for everyone so using Zoom is a great alternative. Why not take some time to catch up with someone instead of talking shop and simply enjoy a call with a new friend or freelance peer.

Change What You Listen To

Whilst this tip does divide many freelancers, particularly those who need silence to get creative, some freelancers suggested listening to their favourite bands helped their general mood. It might not be practical for many remote workers to listen to music or anything at all but having background noise can remove that isolating feeling when you’re working alone.

 Freelancer Thomas Meyer says listening to lots of music has helped him with the feeling of loneliness; “Answer is yes and lots of music, working in different areas of the home, and until 2 years ago, at least 1 day out of the office meeting with people that can advance my (or my client’s goals).”

If you’re used to listening to the radio every day, why not change up the channel or try listing to a podcast. Podcasts are often much more inclusive to listeners as they’re designed to be a 1-2-1 medium so next time you’re lacking some human interaction put on your favourite playlist or podcast and enjoy some time absorbing your favourite sounds.

Try Co-Working

The Curious Lounge in Reading offers remote working places

If there’s one universal trait about freelance business owners it’s their capacity to collaborate, so it was no surprise that a number of responses featured co-working in some capacity. Whether that’s renting a co-working space in your local area, working with an agency on projects or even joining forces with other freelancers who provide other services, co-working is one of the best ways to combat loneliness and boost productivity! Double win.

Freelancer Michael Kove suggested choosing a good-sized co-working spot; “Co-working space. Especially good one with many common areas, not just a place to work. WFH is fun and all but humans are social species - we need that water-cooler chat🤣”

Bonus Tips-  Get A Pet!

Pet-owning freelancers were quick to tell us how much their pets positively impact their mental health and well-being. Dog-owners in particular shared that having a reason to get out and talk to fellow dog owners was a great way to combat loneliness and helps kick-start your day working remotely.

There’s no right answer to combating loneliness as it affects us all very differently but the solution can be making a little change every day. Whilst the feeling of loneliness can be overwhelming and sometimes making the effort to get out of the house or have a chat on the phone can feel like too much, it’s essential for breaking the cycle of negative thoughts.

Click here for the full thread of great tips and mentions various communities, forums and other suggestions for helping keep loneliness at bay. If you’re a freelancer or work remotely and have a tip we haven’t featured, why not tell me on Twitter @originalisaac and join in the conversation of loneliness. There are also some great resources online from that can help anyone feeling isolated or lonely.

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