Natural Life Magazine

How to Handle Work-at-Home Isolation

How to Handle Work-at-Home Isolation
By Wendy Priesnitz

Many people are working at home for the first time during the current pandemic, and finding it to be quite different than their former way of working. If you're one of those people, here are some ideas to help you adjust.

Some people have lost jobs and are starting up their own micro-businesses; others have been sent home by their employers because they're able to do their jobs remotely; still others are juggling home and office to facilitate child care. What most of these people have in common is a feeling of isolation. The reaction I recently had from a friend is typical. She explained to me that while she is used to working from home, dealing with clients soley online is a new experience. So, she said, as well as learning how to operate Zoom, she's climbing the walls with cabin fever.

I told her that the year I invited my home business accountant to my New Year's Eve party was the year I realized I had a problem with isolation! Eventually, I came to lead such public life that I longed for those good old days, but I can empathize with anyone who is feeling home office isolation. And believe me, the problem is bigger than just personal loneliness. You need opportunities to "talk shop" so that your business and your business life don't stagnate.

First of all, try to re-create for yourself that emotionally supportive network of coworkers and colleagues that you left behind in the corporate world.

Schedule a few social encounters each week. Arrange to meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Attend a professional association meeting or a Chamber of Commerce networking event. Join a fitness center or sign up for an in-person night school class where such things are still available. Volunteer with one of the many community organizations that could use your help.

Some home business owners fight isolation by pursuing projects that require collaboration. Virtual corporations are becoming common, whereby independent entrepreneurs come together on a project-by-project basis. This is a great way to expand your business, while creating opportunities for stimulating contact with other people.

One group of work-at-homers I once knew arranged to meet in a neighborhood park each morning at 7 AM. They went for a power walk together, discussing business issues while getting some much needed exercise.

Here's another strategy: At one point in the early days of my self-employment, I created a personal board of advisors. This group of people included a woman business owner who acted as a mentor, as well as my accountant and a retired local business owner. In return for feeding this group dinner once a month, I received a great deal of advice and motivation. These dinners also made me feel connected to the business community, in spite of the fact that most days I was cloistered at home with two little kids and my computer.

Wendy Priesnitz is the editor of Natural Life Magazine and the author of 13 books,including Bringing it Home (now out of print).

 

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