Home Alone: How To Battle Work At Home Isolation

by Holly Hanna on April 12, 2011

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A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with some friends and it was so nice. We talked, we laughed, we ate and we sipped on coffee.

It dawned on me that it had been weeks since I left my home office during the day, other than to run errands or take my daughter to her classes.

Working at home has many benefits, but one of the downfalls is the social isolation. In fact, I didn’t even realize how much I missed the day-to-day social interaction until it was right there in front of me.

Self care, which includes connecting with others, is important for you and your business. It invigorates, stimulates and nourishes you. And when you’re feeling your best (mentally, physically and emotionally) your business will be at its best, too.

Here are some tips on how to battle work at home isolation:

Scheduling & Planning:

  • You schedule time to work on business activities, you should also schedule time for family, friends and down time for yourself – for more tips on this, see: 5 Ways to Make Your Weekend More Spacious.
  • Plan a weekly or bi-weekly lunch date with a colleague, friend or a new acquaintance.
  • As entrepreneurs we LOVE what we do, but sometimes we need to cut back on business activities and hours and focus on building and cultivating our interpersonal relationships.
  • Instead or corresponding through email, try setting up a video chat with a program like Skype.

Online Interaction:

  • Join a few social networks, Facebook and Twitter are great places to start and can act as your virtual water cooler during the day.
  • If you have a blog interact with your readers through comments and email.
  • Participate in some Twitter chats/parties. These are usually an hour in length and contain like –minded people talking about a specific subject.
  • Sign up for webinars and teleconferences, not only will you be interacting with others, but you’ll learn something new.

Face to Face Time:

  • Get involved with a local networking or business group.
  • Seek out new hobbies and interest, examples: yoga class, cooking class, dance lessons, book club.
  • Attend conferences and major events.
  • Take that online relationship to the next level by arranging to meet face to face.

Once you start nourishing yourself and your social well-being, you will notice dramatic and positive changes in your mood, attitude and business.

How do you cope with the social isolation of working at home?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stacy November 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I work from home and am divorced and an empty nester. One thing I did to help, was placed my computer and work table in front of the window to have the view while I work. Also, I have a tree out there and added a bird house and two bird feeders to encourage life in the backyard for me to watch. I still leave the TV on and in one room and the TV with a music channel with me in my office. All does help with the isolation.

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2 Laura McDowell December 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

These are some great ideas! I found that the isolation from working from a home-based office was really affecting my health. I also work so much better, and more efficiently with others around to hold me accountable.

Facebook and Twitter didn’t do the immediacy for me…and I love to collaborate. This is why I created a virtual workspace. Check it out…I could still use some company :) Just click the “Second Life” tab in my blog.

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3 Nica Mandigma | Virtual Assistant October 9, 2012 at 12:51 am

The coffice is a great idea! I used to do that to until I discovered a lounge area here in our mall reserved for overseas workers and their beneficiaries. It really has an “office-like” ambiance– free cup of coffee, charging stations and best of all– free aircon!

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4 Alex Sobieski October 3, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Great Article!

I, too, can relate!

It’s really easy to blur the lines between spouse, work, kids, house-duties, learning and development, down-time, etc.

I like the idea of using Skype instead of email/phone, as well as joining local business/networking groups.

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5 Lisa Cash Hanson January 11, 2012 at 2:03 am

This is so true. I feel like I never get out. I’m with Matilda all day which I love and steal my blogging / interview/ running business moments in between feedings and naps. You now I have issues when I go to Walgreens and think ” wow it’s great to be here”- oh brother I need to get out more

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6 Heather Allard January 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

Lisa – I can so relate. Until this fall, I had had kids home with me for 11 years! A trip to CVS to browse the magazine rack was nirvana. Lol. :)

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7 The Mogul Mom (@TheMogulMom) (@TheMogulMom) August 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Are you a #wahm? Here is an excellent post by TMM contributor @holly_hanna on battling work at home isolation! http://ow.ly/61w5c

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8 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 18, 2011 at 9:13 am

Hi Marianne, I totally agree.

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9 marianne April 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

I agree. Working at home has many perks, but isolation can be a drawback! When working from home you need to make sure you have some time, whether it’s on your lunch hour of after work, to mingle with the outside world!

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10 Wade Balsdon April 17, 2011 at 5:42 am

My wife & I work from home and isolation is very much a problem for us. We do a lot of social networking on Facebook but sadly do not get to see too many people live.

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11 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 18, 2011 at 9:12 am

Hi Wade, I know how tough that can be. But, it sounds like you have the best co-worker sitting right next to you.

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12 Martina Iring April 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Great tips Holly! I have had so many people ask me if I get lonely working from home. The truth is, I really don’t. I spend so much time on social media interacting that even though I’m not having the face to face time, I don’t feel isolated. As long as you don’t take your social media stuff too seriously and treat your connections as friends, it can definitely be a great boost. When you only see social media as “work” and get stressed over your activities online (is this going to help my business? is anyone going to respond? …), it becomes more of a burden than an energizer.

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13 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hi Martina, I agree, social media interaction should be fun. I tend to have the problem of enjoying too much =)

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14 Sam Title April 15, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I’m so happy I came across this terrific post about feeling isolated while working from home.

I’d like to propose another self care method to of beating the feeling of isolation: get out to your local coffee shop. Pack up the laptop and go! I assure you, you won’t be the only one…

Nowadays, with free wifi available at so many coffee shops around the world, professional moms AND dads (and beyond) are doing just that.

We’re going to The Coffice – coffee shops used by professionals for their day-to-day work.

Just a couple of weeks ago I got from the following email from my sister:

“Sitting at my “Coffice” (Starbucks) with JD (<-her 3rd, newest child of 4 mos) so I can get my work done (<-she's a psychologist). Will they kick me out after a certain amount of time?" (<- nope)

And if I could make one other suggestion along these lines: Use the Coffice to your working advantage. Try to network. Make friends with staff (freebies). Check out http://www.TheCoffice.biz. (Okay, maybe that was three suggestions and one shameless plug. Switching to decaf now.)

Thanks for reading. Hope to see you at The Coffice!

Sam Title
Chief Executive Cofficer
http://www.TheCoffice.biz
http://www.twitter.com/TheCoffice
http://www.facebook.com/TheCoffice

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15 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 18, 2011 at 9:04 am

Hi Sam, Glad you enjoyed the article. Working in the “Coffice” is another great idea!

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16 Dalia April 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

Love this post. So very true. Working at home gets very isolating. And like you said here you don’t even realize it sometimes until you actually get out. I find this often. Any time I do get out, which is not all that much, I think…why don’t I do this more? I just get so involved in work during the day I don’t take the time. I like the idea of scheduling ahead of time.

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17 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

Hi Dalia, You took the words right out of my mouth, “why don’t I do this more”? Glad you liked the scheduling idea.

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18 Kelly-Jo April 13, 2011 at 8:47 pm

So true. I found myself being very isolated at home working, so I joined the shool P&C and volunteer at the canteen a couple days a week. Made som new friends and it gets me out of the house.

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19 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

Hi Kelly, Great idea! And you’re doing good for the community – double bonus.

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20 Amy Kinnaird April 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Holly, I am glad to see your article. I have worked from home for over 15 years and finally became active in the two local chambers a couple of years ago. Like others have said, I rediscovered how much I loved being around people and networking. Also trying to have lunch with friends at least once per month. The BEST thing I did was join our local co-working facility as a part-time member. I come here up to 10 days/month and am surrounded by like minded entrepreneurs. I just pack up my laptop with enough work for a few hours and grab my cell phone. Focus time for sure, and social interaction if I want it.

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21 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 14, 2011 at 10:58 am

Hi Amy, Thanks for stopping by. That local co-op sounds great. We have something similar in Austin, they even had child care available, I’ll have to try it out one day – thanks for the suggestion.

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22 Holly April 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I tried Linked In awhile back, but I never really ‘got it’. I wasn’t thinking locally though. Maybe I’ll give it another shot with a different frame of mind!

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23 Gretchen Pritts April 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Oh my gosh! Thanks so much for posting this article. The problem with me, is that I don’t realize the social interaction is missing from my day, until I have lunch or coffee with a friend. Then I’m like,”Oh that’s what has been missing from my life”….

I am trying to be more aware and notice how long it’s been since I’ve seen people besides my family. And to notice if something feels out of whack it is most likely that I am feeling lonely!

Thanks so much for addressing this :)

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24 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Hi Gretchen, That’s how it is for me too. For me, I need to include socialization into my daily to-do list, otherwise it’s out of sight and out of mind. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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25 Holly April 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

noticed the twitter link option after I posted :)

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26 Holly April 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

Love this article! Working at home is so very isolating! I not only live in a very rural area (town of 3,500) I don’t even live IN town. I am in the isolated of the isolated here! I have had a tough time with it. The best thing I’ve done is to become involved in the local Chamber of Commerce. I am on the board of directors, so it keeps me social and productive with local business. I LOVE it! I look forward to when my kids are both in school (I feel bad actually saying that!). At that time I hope to buy an office in town so I can be in ‘the thick of it’. For now, my social networks and Chamber work keep me sane!
Thanks for a great article!

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27 Holly - The Work at Home Woman April 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Hi Holly, It sounds like you’ve found some good ways to combat work at home isolation. I’ve also found LinkedIn to be a really great place to meet other mom entrepreneurs. I’ve joined my college’s alumni group on LinkedIn and I’ve been able to connect with locals that way.

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