One of the best parts of working from home is having more peace and quiet. You don’t have pesky co-workers disturbing you every few minutes, unless you count family and pets.
However, all that solitude might turn you into a work from home hermit. You know the kind that would rather just stay home than change out of their sweatpants. You get so used to the lack of social activity that you start avoiding it when opportunities do arise.
The less you socialize, the more your work life takes over. You spend extra hours working versus going out. Suddenly, one day just bleeds into the next and you realize it’s been days since you’ve really socialized with anyone outside of maybe some work-related emails.
Benefits of Staying Social
The work from home hermit lifestyle might sound great. However, you need a healthy work/life balance. This means actually doing something other than sitting around working. Plus, without social connections, your productivity actually suffers too.
According to some studies, social interactions have the power to make you happier and healthier. Having connections boosts your sense of self-worth and staves off loneliness, which can lead to more severe issues like depression.
Being more social with people you enjoy being around also reduces your stress levels. Working from home isn’t always easy, so taking a break to socialize makes the situation less stressful. When you’re less stressed, you sleep better and have more energy. Both lead to better productivity and most importantly, you feel overall better.
There’s also proof that healthy friendships help reduce your risk of serious health issues, such as obesity and high blood pressure. You might even live longer.
You don’t need hundreds of friends for these benefits, either. Just a small group is enough. However, if you’re a work from home hermit, you’re not interacting with your small group. That’s when your health and work suffers.
Adding Social Interactions Online
When you’re working from home, making friends isn’t always easy. You just aren’t around that many people on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean you should just give up.
Instead, start with your co-workers (if you have any) and clients. If possible, have a Zoom meeting once a week just to remind yourself that you’re working with real people and not just faceless names in emails and text messages.
While social media typically isn’t the most productive tool, it is a social tool. Take the time to reach out to a few friends on your friend list that you actually want to interact with. You might have a thousand “friends,” but odds are, you might only consider ten or less of them to be real friends.
Of course, you can use social media to join groups to interact with people who share a common interest. Spend at least ten minutes a day commenting and engaging with people on social media. By setting a time limit, you won’t suddenly lose hours scrolling. Also, avoid trolls and negative discussions which just cause stress and may turn you into more of a hermit. Believe it or not, there are good people out there, even if it doesn’t always seem like that on social media.
Getting Social Offline
Online friends are great. For some people, they get all the same benefits as with offline friends. However, you still need to interact with real, live people. Perhaps you talk to the waitstaff at your favorite restaurant instead of just opting for delivery all the time (obviously, after coronavirus restrictions are lifted).
Find a local group that shares your interest. Often, you can ask Facebook groups if there are any locals that might like to meet up to chat in person. You could meet with several people to go for a walk once a week and talk.
Depending on your niche, attend relevant conferences. This is ideal if you work for yourself. You get the chance to meet people working in the same industry and make new contacts and leads. Even if in-person conferences are on hold right now, attend virtual events. This at least starts sparking conversations.
You might add a new routine to your week, such as going to a coffee shop, gym, or park. Even if you’re not friends with people, you’re still interacting in small ways, which helps.
If possible, make a point of meeting a close friend or relative every week. The idea is to simply get out of the house, put on real pants, and do something other than sit at your computer working all the time.
The work from home hermit life gets old quick. Don’t get stuck. Your work and health will thank you.