Has working from home got you down? In the dumps? Bummed out? Feeling blah? Even isolated? Short on laughter? Missing positive (and negative) interactions? Are you looking for effective steps on how to tackle Home Office Blues?
If any of the above applies to you, the good news is you’re not alone. One of the most common casualties of the increase in home office work is our emotional well-being. There are countless reasons why it’s harder on our psyche to work from home on our own, even if we are surrounded by family. Among them … and this is a big one: a lack of social connections. The office is a social place. We laugh there. We argue there. We chat, a lot. Even small talk is a connection that goes missing when we’re working from home.
At home office, we miss the countless daily interactions with others that actually provide richness to our lives. The good interactions, like the daily run for coffee or tea at our favourite café, where we spy on a familiar cast of characters. Or the familiar but less pleasant ones. Recently I heard from a friend complaining that she misses the daily smell in the elevator in the morning of a colleague’s overpowering cologne. We underestimate the importance of all those little interactions that come with office work, even the smelly ones.
The importance of social interactions when working from home
So, what do we do for social interaction when we’re working from home? Well, the answer is we build a new “social world” for ourselves. We create a new experience for ourselves, full of social interactions. To start with, we’ve got to start moving around. The thing about the office is that we rarely just sit in one spot all day long. We arrive, we head to the bathroom, we have a coffee, we have lunch, we chat with a friend. So, rather than sitting in your home office space for 8 hours straight, get up and move about. Head for a walk for ten minutes to grab a coffee, and find your home office fave café. Walk the dog for a few minutes and see some friendly neighbourhood faces. Have a quick chat with a friend, just to vent or share a funny story. Break your day up the same way you do in the office, at the home office. Get into that rhythm and open up the possibility of interaction. And I don’t mean just texting!
And above all, make an effort to reach out and connect with people. Just because it isn’t as easy as it is in the office doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Schedule it if you need to, but make sure to connect to a friend or someone else close to you every day. This is the critical one here. If at all possible, and with physical distancing if necessary, get face to face, for a walk, or a coffee, or a post-work drink. Whatever you do, make the effort to meet someone close to you in real life and be social. And add to that talking on the phone. It doesn’t need to be a video call. Just hearing someone’s voice can make our days brighter, and the added effort of a voice call makes us feel better. So, get old-fashioned and pick up the phone.
Re-create the office experience: Reach Out and Connect. Plan-fully.
So, this week’s challenge to everyone out there working from home: REACH OUT AND CONNECT. In person, on the phone. Take the time each day to do it. And break up your day with little “social bumps”. Re-create the office experience at home and in your neighbourhood, and if possible, make it even better!