Working from home. Ahh, it’s the dream, isn’t it? Get up around eleven, have coffee, read the news, hang with the dog. Idyllic, isn’t it? But for those working apart, it’s not probably the reality. Or if it is, things may not be going all that well for you. Sorry to hear that bruh.
But one thing is true—many a remote worker chooses to work from the comfort and confines of their home. And while most home-based workers—the pros anyway—tend to develop and stick to routines that keep them on track, productive, and performing at high-levels, there are many common yet unforeseen side-effects of playing it too close to home, too often.
By now, most experienced sofa-surfers, kitchen-crushers, or basement-dwellers realize there are plenty of alternatives to the home office. Co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, and the like, but let’s leave those things for another article (this one maybe?). For now, let’s focus on what we can do as home-based workers to not only keep up on our out-of-home relationships but stay sane for the long term. It’s easy to do, but the moral of the story is this—get the f**k out the house!
First things first, this is just one list. There is obviously a multitude of things you could do to get outside and take in a little fresh air, but I want to make this quick and actionable so below find a tight-ish and hopefully helpful list of things to do. Not only should these items keep your head in the game, but honestly, if you can make each a habit, they will likely help you professionally as well.
Attend industry events and conferences. One of the best things to do while working apart is taking advantage of your freedom to roam untethered and seek out opportunities to meet other like-minded professionals and learn a little something. Trade shows, industry nights, meetups, conferences and more can be just the kinds of places to get that done. If you have an employer that’s got deep pockets or an inclination to send you to the big shows in your field I recommend strongly that you pack your bags and go as often as possible. The big events can be a little spendy for most solo-operators costing anywhere from many hundreds to many thousands to attend. Not to mention lodging, rental cars, food, etc. To that end, if you work for a company willing to invest in your growth and education, you’d be a fool not to take advantage. For the freelancers and contract-worker-types some of the biggest and best events may be out of reach, but I’d suggest either setting aside a little coin and budgeting to attend a couple a year anyway or stretch that dollar and check out smaller, regional or more niche events that are a little more affordable.
Engage in social media. Most of the time you won’t see me advocating for burning minutes on the socials. It’s not that they are inherently bad, but it’s that for me, Instagram is like a tube-o-Pringles. Once I pop, I can’t stop. So it’s best for me to simply look the other way. However, for the disciplined in the audience, social networks can be a great way to enter into and engage in business-related or work-related conversations not to mention maintaining many relationships from the comfort of your Herman Miller. While I certainly don’t think web-based interactions are going to trump face-to-face conversations anytime soon, they might, as second- or third-best option, keep you from feeling totally alone when you can’t make time to get out of the house.
Pick up the phone. Think of the phone like your grand-dads social media, only better, and at least marginally closer to a real-life human interaction when you are working from home. It seems that most people in modern times lean on text-based chatter—email, slack, text, DM, IM, and so on—avoiding at all costs a call that would likely save them time. In fact, did you realize that that little TV in your pocket isn’t just for gaming or catching up on the latest episode of Tosh.O? That thing can actually be used to make an old fashioned phone call. Isn’t that something? Hopping on the phone won’t just save you the aforementioned time, but it will also give you a little respite from your otherwise dank seclusion. While a call is still second fiddle to an in-person lunch every time, it’s not a bad way to get out of the house virtually anyway.
Never eat alone. Teased mere moment’s ago the prospect of the in-person lunch is a great way to get out of the house, be social, develop long-lasting and meaningful relationships and eat something all at the same time. Not bad, right? This is such a great idea, in fact, people have written books on the importance and intrinsic value of breaking bread. In the über popular Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, he says as it pertains to in-person meetings, “I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like. Careers—in every imaginable field—work the same.” The connections he is referring to can be co-workers, business acquaintances, clients, prospective clients, whomever. The point is that the more—and better—we are at connecting with those who bring us joy, the better off both we and the person who is hopefully footing the bill will be for it.
Take breaks, and take them with others. For many remote workers, we can easily slip into the trap of overwork and exhaustion. With no one around to break up our day, we commonly work through lunch, sometimes not eating at all, working our fingers to the bone, and for what? We don’t give our minds any downtime—let alone our horrible posture. Self-care is right out the window. Instead, not only should you schedule breaks and be disciplined in taking them, you should schedule them as opportunities to get out and be social. Sure, we could hop on the Peloton in the study for a quick thirty to stave off impending death from lack of cardio, but why not plan to meet a friend, hit the gym, or go for coffee and mack on that one barista?
Paint the town whatever color you like. Unlike our office-based counterparts, tired by the daily dramas of working in-house, who can’t wait to get home and decompress, remote workers, fresh off a quiet and productive day in the home office, are often charged with energy and craving a little social interaction. Due to the excessive amount of time you spend alone in your day-to-day, you must be purposeful about your free time. Get out and hang with the boys, take out that special someone—maybe the aforementioned barista you’re crushing on—or take in the latest Tarantino flick over at the megaplex. Whatever you choose, the point is that you evade the shackles of self-induced isolation rampant in the detached community and take care of yourself in mind, body, and spirit.
Like I said at the top, nothing revolutionary here. The fact is that all remote workers have their way, their routine. However, if you aren’t working in time for self-care, social interaction, and an occasional long walk on the beach you’re likely setting yourself up to face some or all of the many dark parts of being a teammate apart—seclusion, isolation, depression, etc.
Are you great at dodging the many pitfalls of working from home?
Tell me about it! We are always looking for great techniques and advice for the ever-expanding network of outsourced talent in the marketplace. Join me here in the comments or feel free to find me on the socials to take this conversation wherever the audience most suited to hear it can get involved - I am @ryanroghaar here on Medium, Twitter, and Instagram and click here to find me on LinkedIn.