If you work from home, how do you make sure you don't feel isolated?

(18 Posts)
eastwest Mon 04-Jan-16 23:26:56

I am self employed and work from home. I have a main job and a couple of side jobs that have developed from that main job, but what they all have in common is that they involve me being on the computer, on my own, typing. Occasionally I get to go out and teach a class, but that's sporadic and it isn't really social because I am never permanent staff, so no staffroom camaraderie and though I like the students I am always in an authority position and obviously at work. I get to go to meetings every so often but again, it's not really sociable - they are one-offs, and usually in London anyway., not with people I see daily.
I often take my computer to local cafes, which is better than sitting at home, but still not really sociable.
I am in various online groups but it isn't the same as talking to people in real life. I used to have a very sociable job (working in a bookshop) and I really, really miss just interacting with people. Today was my first day back at work, and I spent the morning working on Job A, took a break for lunch, worked in the afternoon on JOb B, and then my DP and DS came home and that was the day over.
Additional problems are that we lived abroad until recently, so we don't have close friends nearby, and that my son is pre-school so that network isn't there.
I love my jobs, but I find the isolation that comes from the way I work, really depressing. I really don't want to go on like this for another year.
I have thought of volunteering, but the trouble is I need my work time to work in. I've also considered setting up a local meet-up group for freelancers, has anyone done this and if so with any success? (Someone I know vaguely in the area did actually set up one of these, which I went to, but they haven't met in months.).
If you work from home, how do you deal with not having the social side of work? What do you do to try and make sure you talk to people every day?

BackforGood Mon 04-Jan-16 23:34:32

I do a lot of work from home, but it is interspersed with lots of visits, meetings, trainings etc so I get lots of human contact too. However, if I've managed to get a whole day just for paperwork, then I choose to work at home rather than traveling over to the office, because I can get so much more done, when working. Which is where I can't see the 'freelancers group' working, as surely people don't have time to stop and meet up for a coffee and a chat (as you have sort of indicated with not volunteering).
I do think it would drive me barmy just working from home, but I'm not sure your meet up is quite the answer.
What about walking a dog every day ? (Neighbours, or someone from the Cinnamon Trust is you don't have your own.) All dog owners chat to each other, and a walk in the fresh air in the middle of the day is supposed to make you work a lot better in the afternoon.

eastwest Mon 04-Jan-16 23:45:35

Yes, you may be right about people not having time for a meet-up group. I'm not sure about walking a dog though, I have no experience with dogs at all (am imagining dog legging it across the park, me being dragged along behind on the end of the leash grin ).

BackforGood Mon 04-Jan-16 23:49:18

grin

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 04-Jan-16 23:57:22

You could volunteer in the evenings or at weekends. Or join a club/society near you. Some WIs are full of younger women these days and can be quite good fun.

eastwest Tue 05-Jan-16 00:03:34

Actually we do have a WI whihc I've been meaning to go to. Will look that up. I do go to exercise classes in the evening now and then, but again it isn't really sociable (people are just straight in, exercise and out) and weekends I have to look after my son/ do family stuff.

harryhausen Tue 05-Jan-16 00:05:23

I worked from home for 20 years. I'm still not sure I've got to grips with it!

I started a Facebook group with my particularly work speciality and arrange to meet up for a coffee every so often with people from there. I do meetings in a London, occasionally hold vast assemblies/lectures etc but it's very sporadic.

Sorry to be a cliche, but inJune last year I got a dog. Not only does it get me in the fresh air no matter what, I really do chat to a huge amount of people in a morning. I often meet the same people. Starting a agility training class in the evenings soon.

Other than that, it's hard, but you get used to it. I like my own company now which is always a good thing.

ThruUlikeAshortcut Tue 05-Jan-16 00:07:02

I work from home although my job means I have to socialise and I have meetings practically all day, I love it when I get a whole day at home catching up on paperwork.

Have you tried attending networking events? Maybe once a week or less, I use a website called meetups and also my council website and try to get to one at least once a month.

penguinplease Tue 05-Jan-16 00:10:18

I work from home, I may be alone in the fact I love it. I take dcs to school and work alone with no other interaction all day. It's great.
No sitting in traffic, no office politics and flexibility to allow me to be available for the dcs and whatever is going on at school or allow me to still work if they are ill or on school holidays...
What do you miss?

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 05-Jan-16 00:14:52

The WI I belonged to was a hoot. Try a few and find one you like - they all differ, and what they do depends on what the members of that particular group do.

Have you though about volunteering with Guiding? It's late afternoon/early evening, can provide you with a social life, and they are crying out for volunteers. Again, all groups vary, so if you're interested, try a few before committing to one.

Have

eastwest Tue 05-Jan-16 08:38:02

Thanks everyone. There are certainly positives to working from home, especially the flexibility around kids, but what I miss is just people. Social contact on a regular basis, some kind of conversation and shared relationship. When I was working at the bookshop I saw the same people more or less daily, we shared work concerns and chatted over lunch breaks, and though we didn't socialise outside work we had a relationship and I felt part of a group. At the moment I feel as if all I do is get up, type alone, eat lunch alone or go for a walk alone or do the shopping alone, type alone some more, make supper alone. It's just very... lonely smile

I like dogs but I don't want the responsibility of owning one.

Networking events are theoretically a good idea but the work I do isn't a traditional business (Job A is I'm a writer,JOb B is I teach writing and Job C which I've just begun is designing and delivering projects around inclusion and literature) so I feel like a bit of a fish out of water at them. What I really miss is that sense of some kind of community/regular human interaction. Ideally I would either volunteer somewhere or work, ideally in a bookshop, at the weekends, but given that I work in the week and have a pre-school age child, I don't feel that I can justify taking the time away from family in the evenings and weekends - I feel guilty enough if I miss bedtime in order to go to an exercise class once or twice a week.

eastwest Tue 05-Jan-16 08:39:36

I'll look up Guiding. But to be honest I'd like to be around adults rather than children/ teenagers where I'm in a supervisory sort of relationship to them.

MrsLeighHalfpenny Tue 05-Jan-16 15:35:38

Lots of adults in Guiding - we do things for ourselves as well as organise activities for the kids.

There is an adult only branch of Guiding called the Trefoil Guild too. They are running a recruitment drive to attract more and younger members.

PM me if you'd like some more info.

SageMist Tue 05-Jan-16 16:24:30

I do love working from home but it's very easy to get isolated and not get enough fresh air and exercise.
So every morning I walk to a local independent coffee shop. It's about half a mile away, has free wifi and I work from there for an hour, and then walk home.
Two advantages to this, I have made friends with staff and regular customers and I get regular exercise.

maggiethemagpie Tue 05-Jan-16 18:40:00

Love love love working from home. Lots of contact with colleagues and clients on the phone/skype. Partner is a SAHD so he is usually around with the toddler, and the older one is at school.

harryhausen Tue 05-Jan-16 18:48:10

Eastwest, if you're a writer I totally understand. I'm an illustrator and have a lot of writer friends who all struggle with a bit of isolation. That doesn't help you much, just thought it's nice to know you're not alone in your thoughts.

I connect locally with other illustrators from a Facebook group. Are you a member of Society of Authors? I think they have events. They may even have more local groups? Start your own Facebook group? That's what we did. We know have over 150 members. We don't all meet up. Only a handful of us do, but it's still nice to chat online with them in the day sometimes.

eastwest Tue 05-Jan-16 23:41:45

Thanks Mrs Leigh! I might do that. smile
Harryhausen - yes, exactly what you say. And it does help, thanks smile Yes, I'm a SofA member, but they're not very active outside London (someone started up a chapter here, but it has only had one meeting which was a bit so-so). And yes to Facebook - myy entire social life is basically other writers on Facebook! smile That's kind of the problem, I really want to meet people locally, not necessarily writers at all - just to feel more connected to real life.

kathrunneth Wed 06-Jan-16 21:24:12

I have been mostly working from home for a number of years and I love it. I'm probably lucky in that all my businesses involve talking with people - it's just mostly on the phone. I sometimes work at a local cafe, or work in town after client meetings, just to mix it up a bit. One of the plus sides of having a portfolio career or running your own business it that you can usually work slightly more flexibly so I will try to meet up with one of my friends with our children - at an activity like swimming lessons, or for a playdate - and grab a chat and even a coffee if we can. I can't do that regularly because of work commitments but even once in a while is lovely. I also make sure I get a girl's night out in the diary pretty regularly.

Perhaps you could join a book group or try to find a friend who can exercise with you to make it more sociable? I used to jog with a friend which was fun. Some mums find it helpful to be their child's class rep so they can meet all the other parents and hopefully make some new friends in a similar position. Or maybe you set up a little group of local people who all run their own businesses and get together once a month or so. There's bound to be things you can learn from each other and perhaps you'll find a couple of people that you like and can catch up with more regularly. Hth.

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