Work At Home Without Feeling Isolated

Those who work at home tend to make office drones jealous of their supposed freedom, but there’s also a downside to telecommuting. Everyone needs social interaction on some level, and working from home severely limits workers’ opportunities to connect with others. A sense of isolation can set in and drag down the mood at the home office.

A BestRatesIn post suggests ways for work-at-homers to connect to the outside world:

* Manufacture an office of your own. If you know someone else who works the way you do, team up to work alongside him, either at one of your places or somewhere that offers reliable WiFi. Casual small-talk with a friend can make the day flow better.

* Bug others during the workday. If you’ve got friends who are off during the day or have time to kill while on the job, make an effort engage them in online conversations. Work isn’t as much fun without someone to complain to while you avoid doing it.

* If your hours are flexible, take advantage of them. Without a boss peering over your shoulder, exercise your relative freedom by taking long breaks to engage in activities you wouldn’t be able to try if you were stuck in the office. You may find it’s easier to get work done during off-hours — either at night or early in the morning — when there are fewer professional types around to bother you.

Lonely Entrepreneur: Battling Isolation when You Have a Home Business [BestRatesIn]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cat says:

    Get yourself a companion to keep you company while you “work” at home.

    • bluline says:

      The secret, at least for me, is to get the work done without letting your bosses know how fast you are. If they think it takes you eight hours to get the job done they aren’t likely to pile more on you like they would be if they thought it took you only four hours. So I may be tethered to my work computer and work phone, but I also have my personal computer at my fingertips, along with my personal phone. I can use those at my leisure or even read a book if I want to as I know I’m available and ready if needed.

  2. Derigiberble says:

    Full-time teleworking is awesome.

    Best part: being able to completely cut off the “Hey I need to ask you a question” or “Let me tell you about my crazy night last night” interruptions when you really need to get things done.

    • bender123 says:

      Completely agree. Nobody bothers you with stuff you just roll your eyes at. We use IM at work and the best option is that you can ignore them when you want to (set to DnD) and engage you are open to chatting.

  3. dolemite says:

    I work at an office in an area with about 10 cubes around me, and I feel isolated. Everyone is so down in the dumps and rushed all the time, no one interacts with each other, and if you send a funny video or joke, not a single person responds, ever. They are cordial enough with each other, but honestly, I’d rather work at home.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      I’m like a goat. I like people around me but I don’t want to talk to them.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      That’s the way my former job was. You would walk into the office and it was really quiet and felt very oppressive. A vendor said to me one time that it was the most quiet office he’d ever been in, and it was creepy. Then at five o’clock everyone would run out like the building was on fire.

      You know, even though getting laid off sucks I’m so glad to be out of there. The temp lady asked me yesterday what I liked and didn’t like about my last job and I was speechless. There was very little I could say that wasn’t negative.

      • dolemite says:

        Despite somewhat ok pay, I really, really, really look forward to the day I leave this job behind. I’m just going to stick with it as long as I can, pay down as much debt (hopefully get mostly debt free), then find something I enjoy, even if it is 1/2 the pay. Probably going to take 3-5 years, but each year is worse than the last. We actually have people crying in their offices on almost a daily basis.

    • bluline says:

      I’m “working” from home as I type this, not using my work computer, of course. Yes, there’s isolation, but it’s outweighed by the fact that I can wear what I want (sweats), start and stop when I want (as long as I put in the requisite amount of time, take breaks when I want (to do stuff like respond to this article), I have a window that shows the birds at my feeder and the squirrels trying to figure out how to get to the feeders, and on and on. It’s great and I wouldn’t want to go back to a cubicle farm for anything. Those places are totally depressing and dehumanizing.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    When I started working I realized that things that take the average person 8 hrs to do, I can get done in less than an hour.

    If I was to work from home, I”ll get my work done before I get out of bed and use the whole day to do whatever I want.

    • bluline says:

      Agree totally. In the type of job I do, I’m several times faster than the average person (experience counts for a lot in that regard), so my typical 8-hour work day rarely is half that. I get everything done that I’m expected to do, yet I don’t have to spend time squirming in a cube with nothing to do. Working from home is great.

  5. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    It is the isolation factor that makes me want to work from home more. I don’t want ‘social interaction’, I want to get stuff done.

  6. scoosdad says:

    “If your hours are flexible, take advantage of them.”

    That’s a two sided coin, at least for me working at home. I have specific tasks and assignments I need to complete by deadlines, but I also need to be available to solve problems and take questions from co-workers who are on the 8-5 schedule. So if I work a late night to get a task finished ahead of time (as I did last night), that doesn’t necessarily mean I can do what I want the next morning. I still have to be at my desk at home to take calls and respond to emails as they come up. But I still wouldn’t trade it for the 3 hour a day commute or the noise and general distractions in the office.

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      I agree with this. Another danger of that “flexible schedule” is that some employers might push the limit of what they can get out of you. You know the whole, “Do less with more mentality?” Well if you don’t have boundaries in place about your work day, they’ll throw more at you. Before I left the workforce, I was working from home and it went from supporting a team in one country to supporting teams in two countries (in different time zones). Some days that meant literally working around the clock. The next job that I get, I’m going to make sure it is a solid 9-5 and when my work day is over, it’s over. A girl has got to get some sleep once in a while!

      • sponica says:

        ugh boundaries are always key….I was an hourly part-timer yet my old manager would get upset that I didn’t answer the phone 40 hours a week. you want to talk to me about clients and have me schedule meetings, that’s fine….but you’re going to PAY ME. once I started billing for the time she spent talking to me, she respected the hours I established as my working hours.

  7. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Or you could just post this:

  8. Sean H says:

    As someone who started working from home, I really like this. It does have its perks; watching Maximus in the Battle of Carthage right now in the movie Gladiator during work isn’t so bad. LOL but it is harder to stay on task and time moves like molasses.

  9. Lyn Torden says:

    When I start to feel lonely while working at home (yes, I do), I get on Consumerist (and a few other sites I won’t name).

  10. nearly_blind says:

    Have a dialog with people on your favorite blogs.

  11. crispyduck13 says:

    Is this a serious article or was the author being sarcastic the entire time?

  12. c_c says:

    I telecommute full time … have to disagree w/ the flex hours. I prefer to have a set schedule, and at the end of the day be done. It helps that we have a spare room in our house dedicated as my office, so I can physically leave when finished. I have a co-worker who I know has gotten into the habit of doing work late at night and on the weekends, and I just don’t want to go down that road. Plus I need to be available during regular working hours to communicate w/ my boss and clients.

    • sponica says:

      that’s what my uncle does…it helps keep him grounded. plus the kids know when he’s in the office with the door closed they can’t run in there.

    • bender123 says:

      Same here…Just because my office is at home doesnt mean my home life and work life need to mix. Kepp them separate keeps you sane.

  13. kobresia says:

    Get a cat. It works for lonely old ladies, it’ll work for you. Just remember, it’s fine to talk to your companion animals, you only have to worry if they start speaking back.

  14. AliceMaz says:

    My cats are excellent co-workers but it’s not as fun sitting around the kibble bowl for office gossip. Plus, I prefer to drink from a glass that’s not on the ground.

  15. ShreeThunderbird says:

    As an artist I have worked at home for over 40 years ‚Äì long before the internet. I regulated my work day to make the hours similar to an office job. However, I always kept the flexibility to run errands, etc. I have never been able to tolerate silence so I always “listened” to television or music while working in my studio. What I hated was friends who seemed to believe that since I was at home I should be available for them to just drop or call in whenever they pleased. Would they do that if I was working in an office? Despite that, obviously, working at home has worked for me for a long time.

    • Not Given says:

      I knew a woman who worked at home. She had a neighbor that liked to drop in on her and visit, taking up a lot of time, as if she didn’t have things she had to do. Her office was in front with a window visible from/overlooking the front door. She started picking up the phone and acting like she was talking to someone and she’d just wave to the neighbor once and eventually he’d go away.

  16. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I long to find out if it’s lonely working from home. My helicopter boss won’t even entertain it. She thinks we all need to get along like a big family and all be friends. I’m surprised she hasn’t gathered us all together to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

    For me, the worst part about working in a cube farm is having to put up with the constant distractions of ringing phones, and a dozen or more people talking on the phone or discussing things with each other all at the same time. Second on the list is that some of my coworkers are disease factories and are always sick with some sort of flu or cold.

    I put in earphones and use hand sanitizer, but my boss frowns on earphones because we can’t hear her yelling for us from her office. Apparently she hasn’t discovered she can pick up the phone and dial our extensions if she wants to talk with us.

    • Not Given says:

      I just wouldn’t respond to the yelling, ‘hey, sorry I was concentrating on my work and didn’t hear you. I can’t miss the phone, my extension is xxx.’

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        No, my passive-aggressive response is to call her office from my phone. It’s my way of showing her that the phone can be used instead of yelling. It’s been 9 years now, but one of these days…I just know it will work!

  17. framitz says:

    I’m working from home right now and I do feel isolated a lot of the time.

    I miss the interaction with my coworkers. Instant messaging helps.

    I tend to work harder when working from home and take less breaks because I want management to be able to see how hard I work from home.
    Yeah I’m a little paranoid for no good reason.

  18. smo0 says:

    I LOVE my work at home job… except people at my “job” are always bugging me if I’m 30 seconds too long on a break or if my calls run long.
    I get lots of people remoting into my iMac at random times – THAT’S SUPER ANNOYING.

    But yeah, if everyone’s busy – and I’m alone talking to customers – it can be very lonely.

    I live with two other people and they work – so… between 1pm and 6pm I’m alone.

    My work computer is next to my home computer so I can read articles and chat with people but…. :|


  19. hahatanka says:

    Working at home or in an office always has good & bad points.
    For over 15 years, worked in offices, as a temp accountant.
    There were great and horrid companies.
    There were employees that were a delight to work with, others so bad, I ask my agency to get me a different assignment.

    I now work at home.
    Easier on me, but I miss talking to fellow and discussing their lives & families.
    Many people love the suburban environment. But driving 30 minutes one way of my lunch hour sucked. I actually loved downtown and so many places to eat, in walking distance.
    Now it’s crap out of a can in my semi-rural home.
    I put my computer in front of the picture window so I can see the few cars that drive by & spoil the cat letting her in & out too much.
    Working at home is great for my mental & physical health. You just have to realize there can be a dark side.

  20. One-Eyed Jack says:

    I love working from home. I get so much more done from midnight – 4am than I do any time of the daylight hours. But I absolutely have to work an exercise routine into my schedule, because I have no reason to more more than 30′ in any given day. Bed to kitchen to home office to kitchen to home office to kitchen … you get the idea. I barely even get out to run errands any more.