According to recent research by Cigna, loneliness is at an all-time high.
A Harvard study showed that over a third of American adults felt lonely during the pandemic. With 61% of young people feeling it the most.
With a loneliness epidemic linked to pandemic safety measures, even experts are stumped about fixing it And as much as we champion remote work, there’s only so much Zoom can do.
As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said best: “Digital technology should not be a substitute for human connection.”
While we believe the pros of working from home far outweigh the cons, three in ten Americans are considering quitting their jobs as a result.
And sure, these statistics are US-based, but the rest of the world is just as fatigued.
Loneliness isn’t just a feeling. Isolation can wreak havoc on physical, mental, and cognitive health.
In research before the Covid-19 pandemic, organisational psychologist Lynn Holdsworth found that full-time remote work increased loneliness by 67%.
With that in mind — and the roughly 3.39 billion people working from home — that’s a lot of lonely people.
In 2020, internet firms Buffer and AngelList reported that loneliness is still the biggest struggle for remote workers. Research also suggests that it drives burnout and churn.
So, where to begin on fixing this? Well, it comes down to you (and a little help from your friend, Cocoroco).
How to tackle WFH loneliness
We’ve all felt lonely from time to time. Even Elon Musk occasionally feels lonely swimming in his pools of cash. If the figures are anything to go by, it’s the norm. But it doesn’t have to be.
If you still work remotely, the good news is, we’re closer to being out of the covid woods. There are way more loneliness-fighting options available now than there were a year ago, like:
1. Make plans
You might like sitting at home more than going out, but changing things up won’t hurt. Going out with friends now and again can help you enjoy being at home even more.
🎨 Make plans to see people, go places, and do things. Your computer and Netflix will still be there when you get back.
2. Reach out
It’s all too easy to cut yourself off when you work from home. Sometimes, you might not even realise you’ve done it until it’s too late. It’s important to keep reaching out.
🧑🤝🧑 Reach out to friends, family, or colleagues. It’s what they’re there for.
Exercise is a great way to get yourself back out there. (And who knows who you might bump into at the dog park, health food shop, or gym.)
🚴 Take walks, join a gym, or join a fitness class. You’ll meet people, get fresh air, feel great, and appreciate your own company even more.
4. Coworking space
Coworking spaces have boomed over the last few years. Although the pandemic threw a wrench in the works, trends suggest they’re due a big comeback.
🧑💼 If you’re hungry for coworkers and watercooler chats, check out a coworking space. They’re popping up in rural areas, too.
5. Get a pet
Pets make people feel less lonely. Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or a lizard person, a four — or even eight — legged friend could be just what the doctor ordered.*
🐶 Adopt an animal companion. As well as being great company, some animals give you a reason to get out of the house.
* Please only consider this option if you have the bandwidth to be a pet parent. If you can’t commit full time, offer to walk the neighbours’ dog.
6. Connect online
Reddit, forums, Discord, social media. The internet is vast. You can find people who like the same things as you easily. These connections can sometimes even lead to long-lasting friendships.
🎮 Join an online forum for people who share your interests. When the weather outside is lousy, an online conversation can still brighten your day.
7. Chat to coworkers
The best kind of coworker is one you can talk to. Even if office chit-chat is something you’re glad to be free of, you might be surprised how much fun you can have with your workmates.
🧨️ Talk to your colleagues about non-work things. Just watched a new movie? Ask if anyone else has seen it. Hooked on a new video game? Perhaps one of your coworkers also shares your obsession. Remember: there’s more to work than work.
You’re not alone
While many people feel lonely working from home, remote work is still the future. In the previously mentioned 2020 State of Remote Work report, remote workers want to keep working remotely.
The key to keeping the work from home lifestyle healthy is to do all we can to remain connected: to ourselves, our friends, and each other.