How do you cope with feeling lonely while working remotely?
No, my black labrador retriever keeps me company.
We actually just implemented a team meeting on Fridays that’s simply a social hour. We will talk about how our week went in general, and just how life is going. We have a small team, so it works. I’m looking forward to seeing how those go!
It’s very easy to feel lonely as a remote worker, especially if you’re a freelancer that isn’t part of a team. I always listen to music whilst working and try to listen to podcasts whilst going for my morning walk as it (sort of) simulates the discussions you’d have in an office. I also try and meet up with someone at least once a week for drinks or a meal so I can get out of the house and speak with other people beyond my wife.
But isolated, I did at the beginning… So I came up with a few ideas to overcome this challenge. I knew that typically, people naturally develop friendships and partnerships in the workplace or at school, often over lunch or coffee… So I kind of tried to recreate a similar environment. Here is how I used to do it at the beginning of my nomadic life with my Brainstorm Lunches initiative (that was before co-working spaces and before social medias).
Nowadays, since I am outside many hours every afternoon, I do not feel the isolation anymore… And I am also part of various communities online and offline (for which I even travel for, like attending conventions etc.).
And although I do not currently use co-working spaces, I still think they are fantastic option to help avoid isolation…
This is, by far, the biggest downside to being a remote. Office friends are nice. You get to grumble about the boss…the job…share life stories.… As as a remote I only see my co-workers once or twice a year. You’re stuck in your house for 8 hours and it can be surprisingly isolating. I’ve added volunteering at my kids school a few hours a week and became a scouting leader to make up for the lack of contact.
Not really. If I do, I typically think of it as a valuable moment, where I can focus on me and me alone, rather than everyone else.
I regularly Skype with my mum and 3-5 of my best friends. Every summer, I spend a month or two in Germany and Europe and I try to make trip to visit friends wherever they may live around the world.
Never! There is a world of interesting people out there to meet!
I do feel lonely sometimes. I don’t have a great coping mechanism other than to regularly call my mother who is luckily retired now.
I’ve definitely felt lonely and isolated—especially during my first year as a digital nomad—and I still spend a fair amount of time alone when on the road, but I actually don’t mind it anymore, and I don’t really have any particular strategies that I use to make new friends and meet people, etc. That tends to happen naturally. I’ll strike up a conversation with someone almost anywhere—in a café, on a bus—or a bus station (I’ve made a couple of very good and lasting friendships thanks to long waits at bus stations in Thailand, for example), and online communities and networks are really helpful these days for meeting fellow remote workers. There wasn’t as much of a community back when I was starting out, but with people now being able to meet online and in coworking spaces, etc. around the world, I don’t see why anyone should have to feel lonely or isolated to any great extent just because they’re living and working this way.
Yes, but then I remember that close friends are literally a text message or phone call away. While it does get lonely (even when you’re in a super exciting new place!), I’ve really enjoyed these “boring” times that allow for deeper self reflection and I prefer that over the craziness that my life used to be sometimes.
I like working by myself so I don’t feel lonely when I work. I prefer to work alone as it is less distracting for me. Outside of work I have gravitated towards cities where I know people or who are also working remotely, so I am never far from friends if I wanted to meet up with people.
Yes, I do sometimes feel lonely. Mostly when I don’t have scheduled calls or work to really bury myself in. What I do is look up all my colleagues, find someone who is available, and ping them for a chat. That can be 5 minutes or 90 minutes. We often end up talking shop, so everyone wins.
I’ve never met anybody who felt isolated while traveling. It’s an incredibly social thing, unless you’re really trying hard to avoid people. I’m always surrounded by a big group of good friends, so if anything I actually need to take breaks periodically and travel solo.
Isolation is definitely a risk with working remotely. When I start to feel isolated, I work at the library for a day or two or make plans to see friends.
I have two dogs who keep me company during the day, and I talk my husband’s ear off when he comes home from work. I can also call my coworkers to just catch up, and/or meet a few for lunch.
No, though I am asked this question a lot!
I’ve both been able to find meaningful friendships that technology bridges when we are apart, and have made friends with others who find it a great plan to change their schedules to fit with spending time with likeminded people. So I end up in cities or towns with at least a few others who are remote workers, and it feels a bit as though I have an instant community each time.
These are people who are now good friends after years of crossing paths, but do I think it’s possible to find people who jive with your mentality now far more easily than when I started out in 2008. Lots of forums and meetups out there. The danger is simply not to spend time with people just because they may get what you do; we are all still the sum of who we spend time with, in some ways. So if they aren’t people you see yourself connecting with over and above the commonalities in work, I think it’s important to keep looking.
It’s easy to feel lonely when working remotely. It just means you have to try a little bit harder to find community. I’m very intentional about making plans to meet friends, organizing dinners, and taking every opportunity to get out and meet new people. I’ve learned to make myself comfortable being uncomfortable by putting myself in all sorts of situations that cause me to grow, and build amazing relationships in the process.
One thing I always do is let people know where I’m heading on Facebook. I’ll post something as simple as “I’m heading to Istanbul next week—anyone there or know folks I should meet up with?” I’ve reconnected with dozens of old friends this way, and also been introduced to a number of friends of friends who made my trip a memorable one and gave me a sense of community in a place I’d never been.
Not at all. I am interacting with people all day long.
I enjoy being alone at times, and rarely feel lonely and never isolated. My non-work friends are spread throughout the world, so working remotely actually helps me see them more than when I was geographically limited to a certain country/office.
As an introvert, I am open to being alone and actually prefer it to get work done. But I also know that it is critical to stay connected, so our team will schedule recurring lunch or dinner for us to get together. We even have a “virtual watercooler” conference call where we only talk about non-work items, to get to know one another on a personal level.
When I begin to feel lonely I schedule lunch dates with local friends and family.
I have several hours of video meetings per day, my virtual coworking group, and my evening collaboration sessions. Even though I am on my own in my home office, I’m almost never alone. And while I have plenty of virtual interactions with people, I still make an effort to spend time outside with my friends and family.
We work together, so that reduces any loneliness. There is always someone to socialize with, even if they are a friend you haven’t met yet. The world is awesome like that!
Loneliness is often cited as one of the cons of nomading, if not THE con. There is, however, a difference between being alone and being lonely, and with this nomad life, you’re alone a lot. I found being alone something interesting to explore and experience; I’m often told that I’m an extrovert, but I’ve learnt that I love to spend time alone.
I think this loneliness on the road thing can be dealt with easily, and it’s up to you how “lonely” or social you want to be. I actually have a draft blog post on this, and here are the main points:
- Join Facebook groups of whichever city you’re in e.g., Kaohsiung Nomads, Kaohsiung Expats. You can write a post introducing yourself, and that you’re new to the city, and/or keep an eye out for events posted.
- Join Nomad List’s Slack channel of the city you’re in, and chat with and meet people there.
- Look for events on meetup.com.
- Look for other nomads in the city you’re in via Twitter, or a 3rd party tool like ManageFlitter.
There are times when I feel lonely, but I’ve learned over the years to see loneliness as a spectrum of emotions, and not a static feeling. I’m introverted and tend to love my own company. Solitude is a precious gift when I find it on a mountaintop, in a park, or tucked into the corner of a coffee shop. This same feeling that I love, solitude, can creep into loneliness. But it’s always a temporary state and I’ve learned ways to counteract it when I see feelings of loneliness creeping into my days. At these times, I will often seek out a coworking space. Or I’ll go online and find other digital nomads in my area. I’ll also up my volunteer hours (or find a place to volunteer if I’ve let that fall to the wayside). These actions combined tend to right the scales and keep me balanced and enjoying working remotely.
Totally! Moreover, if you don’t get on top of it, it can make you feel a little crazy. When first starting out, that was a major problem. Since you don’t have coworkers it can feel a bit lonely. I try and keep a schedule that’s semi-congruent with traditional work schedules so that I can meet up with friends after work. In addition, I have friends that also have non-traditional work schedules, so that helps too. I also volunteer, as that allows me to give back, while helping me stay connected to those around me.
I love to listen to NPR and podcasts while I work. It’s kind of like having a conversation with your coworkers—only probably a lot more interesting and well-informed.
I hang out with musician friends and party a bit more than I should when I’m feeling too isolated.