Working from home is the dream for many introverts. You get to work from the comfort of your own room (even your bed, and we all love a comfy bed!), you don’t get distracted by people around you and there is no need for the small talk that comes with the office environment.
Even though it seems ideal at the beginning, working from home can get lonely after a while. You don’t actually miss the water cooler talk, but you wouldn’t mind getting feedback on your ideas or hearing new ones. You get less motivated to turn on the laptop, you are not the busy bee you once were. You start feeling isolated, but don’t really have the energy to change anything.
However, you are not the only one. A lot of homeworking introverts fall into the same trap, instead of thriving in a more secluded environment, they become hermits. Here is why it happens and what to do about it.
In This Post:
Getting Lost inside Your Head
All humans, even the most introverted individuals, have a fundamental need for social interaction. Working in an office forces us to talk at least occasionally with others and keeps us sane. At home, there is no superior to tell us to go to a meeting or to work on a project in a team. We depend only on ourselves to make decisions about interaction with others, so we often get lost in our work and opt for a quiet night in instead of hanging out with friends.
When others invite us to meet with them, we often find excuses not to go. Sometimes we actually do have to work, but more often than not, we just don’t feel like leaving our little oasis. Eventually, even the most persistent friends stop asking. Truth to be told, at first, we don’t even notice.
What Is This Feeling?
Soon, you start spotting the first symptoms. When someone calls you, you sound as though you had been sleeping and your vocal cords still haven’t woken up. And then it hits you – you haven’t talked to anyone for a day (or days?). You are communicating only by email, messengers, and texts.
When you become aware of this, you realize that you are lonely. And loneliness isn’t just a feeling that makes poets write and artists paint, it is a dangerous state that can lead to depression and different medical problems.
Another important aspect that is missing is the motivation and support that comes from working with others. If you are part of a team, other members can encourage and help you. Even negative feedback can be helpful in keeping you on track. Also, an occasional comment or an idea tossed your way can grow into a creative project that yields great results.
What Can Be Done about It?
The good news is that you do not have to return to an office environment to balance your lack of social interaction with the stimulation of working alongside others. Here are tips to help you indulge your need for being alone without becoming lonely.
Connect with your friends through social media, even if it means stopping work for a while to do so. Not only will the break do you good, but you will find yourself taking an interest in other people’s lives.
Check in with others by telephone. Doing so might be revolutionary for an introvert who uses only email to connect with others, but sharing a piece of news or a joke with other people and hearing their voices will connect you with the real world outside your home office.
3) Step outside
Take regular breaks. Your productivity is likely to suffer if you work intensely for hours on end. Better yet, take the break by sharing a light lunch or a cup of coffee with a friend at a nearby restaurant.
Sitting at your desk the whole day can be stressful and exhausting. Dedicate at least one of your breaks to working out. It will clear your head and make you feel energized. You will return to your desk with a solution to a problem you might be facing or with renewed enthusiasm to tackle a project.
Consider joining a fitness group. You will be surrounded by people without having to talk to them a lot. And your body will be thankful.
An increasing number of opportunities are opening up for those who work alone at home to co-work. Co-working spaces are designed to provide the amenities needed to run a home office with support networks.
Turn off your desktop computer or laptop as well as your phone for a day when your work schedule provides you the opportunity to do so. The break will be refreshing.
7) Go out
Set aside a night once a week to enjoy others’ company at a social gathering of your choice. Meet new friends and forget work totally while you do. This might be the most difficult step, so don’t force it when you don’t feel like seeing other people at all. A drink with your best friend will do.
Finding the Balance
Working from home is extremely rewarding if you are smart about it. As an introvert, you will flourish in peaceful and familiar surroundings. But don’t let work become your only friend. Follow the seven steps above and you should be able to achieve a balance between your introversion and the basic human need for social interaction.