Published on November 2nd, 2008 | by Guest Contributor2
Telecommuters: 10 Ways to Banish the Isolation Blues
With the rise of gas prices, many workers would like to turn their current jobs into a telecommuting position or find a telecommuting job. After all, there is a huge environmental benefit to minimizing the commute-related carbon footprint.
Telecommuting also offers financial benefits, including saving on gas, office attire, and eating lunch at home. What’s not to like?
For all of the benefits of telecommuting, some teleworkers have discovered a potential drawback: social isolation. Over time, natural extroverts will miss the camaraderie and collaboration within the office, and introverts will miss the occasional opportunity to connect with coworkers.
So how can you continue to enjoy the many benefits of telecommuting and avoid feeling like you’re working on a remote island populated by one?
- Office Meetings—Participate in regular office meetings whether you take part by conference call, web conference, or an occasional face-to-face at the office for very important meetings.
- Company Programs—Check with your HR department to see whether your company offers any social programs. Some large organizations have created programs to ease the social isolation of their telecommuters. IBM has the ‘IBM Club’, which organizes activities for employees in a certain geographic area. Club activities range from intramural sports to movies to picnics.
- Pets—Spend quality with your pet if you have one or consider getting a pet. There are many successful programs that facilitate pet visits to nursing homes to brighten the day of residents. Get creative—companionship isn’t limited to other people.
- Telecommuting Clubs—Check the Internet for resources, such as a local branch of a Telecommuters Club, which allows people in the same working situation to share the same workspace. Many telecommuters report feeling motivated in this industrious environment where camaraderie is built-in by shared situation and physical proximity.Another option, for those who prefer a little action, variety, and a more relaxed feel, is to frequent local cafés. This brings business to local establishments and keeps your work environment fresh. Note: This type of flexibility is recommended only for those who can handle distraction without deviating from the task at hand!
- Radio—Now that you don’t have to worry about disturbing your fellow coworkers, tune your radio to your favorite talk program. On a day when you are feeling a little lonely, call in with a listener comment.
- Video Calling—Avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” problem with your coworkers and boss by making video calls when you need to speak to someone in the office.
- Gym—Gym visits take on an entirely new meaning, as you get healthy while getting a healthy dose of social interaction. A great way to lend structure to your days is to establish a gym-going routine. If seeing new faces and meeting a wide variety of people is very important to you, skip the routine and embrace variety. Find a gym buddy to help you stay motivated.
- Professional Organizations—By joining a professional organization and attending meetings and events, you add to your professional network while benefitting from the social interaction of connecting and networking with others.
- Volunteer—Get your social buzz on while doing good in the world. Check out VolunteerMatch for help finding an organization and the work you would like to do.
- Coworking—If the isolation is really getting to you, you might want to check into coworking. Coworking is where telecommuters gather in a common place to work for a fee. Prices and arrangements vary, and some companies may cover the cost. Visit the Coworking Wiki for information on area groups.If you are a federal worker, you might have the option of working at a telecommute center provided by the government. The government originally created these centers in California and then focused its efforts on Washington, D.C. where traffic is notoriously bad.
Check these sites for centers in your area: