Remote work is great because it gives you flexibility and freedom. You can work when and where you want, which makes remote jobs more attractive to a lot of people.
Unfortunately, there’s also a downside. You can feel socially isolated, especially if you do not meet your teammates virtually, or in real life at all.
“Low social well-being and loneliness can have major effects on both employee performance and employees themselves” - Gallup
Why is remote work lonely?
Working remotely can at times be a little lonely. In your typical on-site workplace, you're surrounded by colleagues and (hopefully) friendly faces. You have the opportunity to strike up conversations with people at any given moment. You can bond with co-workers over a silly joke in the elevator, or when you're facing a particularly stressful situation together.
All of this helps build rapport and gives you a sense of belonging that carries over into your work. As remote workers, we often feel like we're missing out on this togetherness because we don't have that immediate network around us every day. Which is why it’s so important to address this issue actively and make an effort to conquer loneliness, once and for all.
Today, you will learn how to overcome loneliness as a remote worker, even if you don't have a lot of experience with small talk or connecting with people.
We will start with a really important task you should not neglect.
Combat remote work loneliness by voicing your concerns with your manager
In the best case scenario, you're happy at your job, but you know that working remotely can lead to feeling disconnected from your team. That's why it's important to voice any concerns or frustrations with your manager as soon as they arise.
Keep in mind: your manager is on your side, and they want to hear how they can help make things better for you. Your manager wants to see you succeed when working remotely, just like they would if you were in the office every day. They may even have their own ideas about how to work with remote employees that goes beyond what HR & People Teams have put into place.
If you're worried about saying something that could be perceived as complaining, focus on coming up with solutions:
"I've been having trouble staying connected with my team and I was hoping we could try out some virtual team building. Here are some Apps I found…." is a lot different than "I feel alone and disconnected, please do something."
If possible, propose a few different ways for your manager to help ease your concerns, such as setting up a weekly gaming session with your team or inviting a few people over for some icebreaker activities.
Get rid of remote work loneliness by being comfortable with small talk
Small talk is a skill. And like any other skill, it's something you can practice. You can practice with your friends, your colleagues and even with your team members. In fact, I recommend using small talk as an icebreaker when you first meet or talk to a remote employee in your company.
The easiest way to do this is to ask questions that are easy to answer: "How was your weekend?", "What did you do this weekend?", "Where did you go?" Simply asking these questions will help break the ice between two people who rarely interact face-to-face but need to get comfortable working together as part of a team.
End remote work loneliness with remote team activities
Here’s the truth: remote work loneliness can be the product of being socially inactive in your remote setup and not addressing the lack of connections that come naturally with an onsite office environment. This means you have to build your own practices that bridge the gap and help you and your team feel connected and social again.
The best way to end remote work loneliness is having remote team activities in place that take place on a regular basis.
That can be
- Solving online puzzles together weekly/bi-weekly
- Sharing wins/losses or other stories from your work day e.g. as a voice message Bonus: use additional images, gifs or even videos
- Playing quizzes with your team before/after every meeting
Find even more inspiration in our article on team socials.
Your new superpower: connecting with others
It can be easy to feel isolated when you’re working remotely, but the truth is that we all need connections in order to thrive. Hopefully, you’re feeling packed with ideas and motivated to be more connected and engaged with your remote team after reading this article.
Don’t forget: The most important thing is to not give up! Keep practicing your social skills, even if they might seem awkward at first, and try new things until they become second nature.
I know it sounds clichéd, but never underestimate how powerful connecting with others truly is and why it matters so much in this rapidly changing world of ours today.
Remember to have a look at Doozy’s Team Celebrations Feature, and celebrate your team’s key dates directly in Slack – you can try it out for free today!
- MIT - The Loneliness of the Hybrid Worker
- Harvard Business Review - Addressing the Burnout, Loneliness, and Indifference Associated with Remote Work
- Gallup - The Loneliest Employees