Working from home to some is the best thing that ever happened to many workers. However, being a home office worker is not an enjoyable experience to other people. Whichever side of the fence you are on, one thing is common. Working from home can make you slowly lose out on your social life.
While working in an office environment, you had various social interactions from the moments you stepped out of your door into the office. From greeting the old couple that takes their early morning walk around the block, to smiling at a stranger while walking past them on your way to work. Not forgetting, the conversations with your co-workers during tea breaks and lunch breaks. When working from home, it would be safe to say that at least 90% of the previously mentioned social interactions are slashed out.
However, in these times of COVID-19, staying, and working from home is a responsible action to take. This is especially true when social distancing is to be considered. For many of those who dread working from home, they must be asking, “How to keep a social life as a home office worker?”. Well, let’s dive into the various ways that you can do so!
Thankfully, keeping a social life while working from home is not as complex as you may think. It can be as simple as reaching out to your co-workers. You could have a conversation about things other than work. Maintaining a social life as a home office worker can also involve joining chat rooms of individuals that share similar interests with you.
Social interactions are not just about talking. It has been proved any form of social connection is good for mental health and physical health. Various research studies have shown that loneliness can be linked to a higher risk of health problems. Some of the health problems include but are not limited to, anxiety, heart conditions, and depression. In this article, I will expound more on the previously mentioned points. I will additionally share other ways you can keep a social life as a home office worker.
1. Reach Out to Others
Reaching out involves being the first to initiate a conversation with an acquaintance, friend, and/or family member. Reaching out will often allow you to get back in touch with people that you may have not spoken to in a long while. It is no secret that being a home office worker can easily make you forget the importance of social communication.
It is common for home office workers to fall into a pattern of waking up, setting up for work, doing their shift, going to bed, and repeat the cycle the next day. Reaching out to an acquaintance, friend, and/or family member can help you rejuvenate failing relationships, or relationships that failed due to poor and/or lack of communication and consistency.
The best part about reaching out in the digital era that we are in, is that a response from the acquaintance, friend, and/or family member would not take weeks and/or years to get to you. A simple “how have you been doing” text can receive a reply in under 3 minutes! And, there is more.
Reaching out and catching up could also be via a group video chat. Websites such as Zoom and Google Hangouts can host group video chats. Mobile apps such as WhatsApp are also able to accommodate single or video group calls and/or chats.
2. Attend (Online) Networking Events
Meeting and getting to interact with new people contributes greatly to your social life.
You could be able to attend an online networking event by simply joining a chat room. The advantage of attending networking events is that you get to interact with new individuals within your field of work. This could lead to more interactions outside the chat rooms. Interacting with newly made friends could help you keep and maintain a healthy social life.
If you consider yourself to be a shy person and/or an introvert then do not worry. The advantage of (digitally) meeting and interacting with a stranger in an online networking event is that you both have at least one thing in common. Being in the same industry or rather field of work will help you make automatic connections with new people.
3. Work In A Designated Office Space/Area.
As a home office worker, working in a designated office space will contribute immensely to helping you keep a social life. You may ask, how? Well, for starters, a dedicated home office space will enable you to focus and would ensure that distractions are minimized.
For example, if you live in a family of 6 people, working from the sitting room couch would not be such a good idea. This is because children may be playing and making noise, or someone watching a blockbuster movie.
Working in a designated home office space will mentally get you into work mode. Additionally, it will help you maintain a work/life balance. This way, you would be able to easily distinguish when to work and when to start reaching out to a good friend for some catch-up time.
It is also important to note that having a balance between your work and social life will contribute towards decreasing chances of burnout. A survey of 7,000 professionals revealed that 73% of workers are burned out. 27% of the professionals involved in the survey attributed being burned out to having no separating between their work life and their social life.
Creating a designated home office space is not as hard as you may think. You do not need to have expensive home office furniture. Neither do you have to build another room into your home.
4. Adhere To Your Work Schedule
Simply defined, a work schedule is a plan drawing out your hours of work per every shift or working day. A work schedule will include scheduled tea breaks and lunch breaks as well. The benefits of a work schedule include but are not limited to:
- Completing projects and/or tasks efficiently.
- Keeping stress levels to a minimum
- Helps meet deadlines
- Increases productivity
- Helps in preserving a life/work balance
- Helps avoid potential burnout
Your work schedule should also include the number of days that you are off for the week. A work schedule will help you keep a social life as a home office worker in one important way.
Overall, a work schedule will let you know when you should be working and when you should not be working. There is no harm in going the extra mile from time to time or working overtime for some extra coins. However, it is important to not turn it into a habit. Adhering to your work schedule involves you working when you should be working and resting when you are off.
Getting sufficient rest will help you maintain peace in your mind. It will also help you feel enthusiastic and excited to interact with people. This will then lead you to be genuinely engaged in social interactions and not just talking for the sake of doing so.
5. Have Conversations Beyond Work
Aside from family and friends, your co-workers are a huge part of your social life. For example, if you work a 10-hour online shift, you would be interacting with your co-worker(s) for about 75% of the time. While working, it is important to keep the conversation relevant to work-related topics. However, while on break, the conversation does not have to revolve around work.
Get to know each other. You may even find out that you are supporters of the same football team. Some co-workers even end up finding out that they are distant relatives!
The importance of having conversations beyond work is that they will help you feel more relaxed. When you feel more relaxed, you are more likely to enjoy the conversation and the whole experience of being socially interactive. It does not just end there.
There is more! A survey conducted by Globoforce revealed that 89% of respondents reported that work relationships made a positive impact on their general quality of life. Conversations beyond work with your co-workers would especially be ideal for you if you live alone. For example, while on your lunch break, instead of eating alone, you could chat with a co-worker over video conference.
6. Do Not Forget Self-Care Practices!
Simply defined, self-care is the act of taking care of yourself. It involves taking care of yourself to maintain good health as you work and go about living your life. Los Angeles-based author of Burning Bright: Rituals, Reiki, and Self-Care to Heal Burnout, Anxiety, and Stress, Kelsey Patel reveals to us the importance of self-care. She says, “Self-care is part of the answer to how we can all better cope with daily stressors.” the daily stressors mentioned by Kelsey include but are not limited to:
- Heavy workload
- Working under dangerous conditions
- The death of a loved one
- Increase in financial obligations
- Chronic illness and/or injury
- Emotional problems such as anger, low self-esteem, anxiety, guilt
- Taking care of a sick family member and/or an elderly person.
The LA-based author then goes ahead to further point out that, “people are feeling lonelier and less able to slow down and unwind. This makes them feel more overwhelmed and anxious by even the simplest of tasks.”
It may not be as obvious, but if you do not practice self-care, then your social life is impacted severely. For example, if you begin to suffer from burnout and depressions, the last thing you would probably consider is reaching out to someone. If anything, you would just prefer to be indoors and in bed the entire day.
Self-care practices are important to do and are commonly divided into:
- Emotional self-care - this type of self-care practice can involve activities such as self-talk and having a confidant to discuss issues with. It can also involve giving yourself permissions to pause and take time to breathe deeply.
- Spiritual self-care - this type of self-care practice can involve spending time in nature, keeping a gratitude journal, and/or incorporating frequent acts of kindness into your day. In the case that you are religious, or rather you subscribe to a particular religion, attending a religious service is also considered to be a spiritual self-care practice.
- Physical self-care - this type of self-care practice can involve prioritizing sleep and choosing to consume healthy and nourishing foods over junk/take-out foods. Having and adopting an exercise routine that you can be consistent with is also an important physical self-care practice.
Undoubtedly working from home has got its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. One of the most common struggles that about 90% of home office workers report facing a challenge with maintaining a social life. The good news is that there are simple ways in which a home office worker can be able to keep and maintain their social life. All that is needed is effort and consistency.
Reaching out to an acquaintance, friend, and/or family member will help maintain as well as improve your (already) existing social connections. Getting out there (digitally for now) and attending online networking events will help you create new social interactions. The advantage of online networking events especially with individuals in your industry is that you would not miss something to discuss.
In regards to maintaining a work/life balance, do not underestimate the power of working in a designated home office space. Try and set up your work home office next to a window and/or balcony. This would help you get your daily dose of fresh and rejuvenating air. Last but not least, adhere to your work schedule.
While it is okay to go the extra mile and/or work overtime, do not overdo it all.
Prioritize the time that your work schedule sets for taking breaks and resting. Last but not least, do not forget self-care practices. You can only be able to keep and maintain a healthy social life if you are healthy and not stressed out.