Tips and Strategies to Overcome Loneliness as a Remote Worker

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Are you tired of your long commute to the office? Maybe you’ve been considering a hybrid or remote work arrangement for some time.

But every time you start to daydream about working in your pajamas, something stops you. And that something is the fear that if you work from home or as a hybrid worker, you’ll be lonely.

The idea that remote or hybrid work increases loneliness has been long touted by employers in arguments against flexible working arrangements.

But how lonely are remote workers really? Or is the idea of hybrid work being more isolating just a myth?

Here we break down the facts about flexible work arrangements and well-being and how to offset feelings of isolation.

Are Remote and Hybrid Workers Lonely?

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According to MIT, 22% of hybrid workers experience feelings of loneliness, compared with 19% of their colleagues who work in the office full-time.

And 70% of workers say that the office is where they establish their friendships and, consequently, their social lives.

This can give the impression that remote or hybrid work isn’t good for us. However, it’s important to note that while it’s certainly possible to feel lonely sometimes, remote and hybrid work does have important advantages.

The Benefits of Hybrid and Remote Work

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According to Robert Half, 50% of workers say their commute is stressful. And prolonged stress from your commute can affect your physical and mental health, contributing to a lack of sleep and negatively impacting heart health.

In addition, remote and hybrid work can benefit 97% of workers who want more flexible working arrangements. This includes people who live in rural areas, where there aren’t as many jobs or big industries to find employment.

Remote work can also benefit military spouses, who can struggle to find employment as they move from place to place. Traditionally, this meant frequently changing jobs, leading some employers to brand them as “job hoppers.”

In addition, hybrid working arrangements have been shown to reduce stress. Research has also shown that hybrid work leads to better work-life balance. And many employees with hybrid schedules love having that extra time to spend with their families or friends.

So, if you’re considering a remote job, what can you do to maintain your well-being and prevent feelings of isolation from creeping in?

How to Combat Loneliness and Make Connections

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There are several steps you can take to increase your happiness and decrease feelings of loneliness. Below are a few simple steps to get started:

  • Try volunteering, which has been shown to increase happiness and decrease the risk of high blood pressure. It also presents an opportunity to form social connections.
  • Work from a coworking space or cafe on occasion.
  • Set clear boundaries. For example, if you intend to “clock out” at 6 p.m., turn the computer off (or put it away) and walk away from your work zone.
  • Take up a hobby. You can do yoga at the community center or join a local walking group to help forge social connections.

What to Do if Loneliness Is Impacting Your Mental Health

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Sometimes, despite our best efforts, feelings of isolation can overwhelm us. If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that you’re not alone. Below are some resources to help you get the support you need:

  • Crisis Text Line International: Crisis Text Line believes “crisis has no borders” and provides people all over the world with “free, 24/7 mental health support.” Crisis text lines vary by location, and more information is available on the organization’s website.
  • California College of the Arts (CCA) International Mental Health Support: CCA offers a directory of resources for international mental health support, with information on emergency numbers and mental health hotlines in countries spanning the globe.

Set Yourself Up for Success When Working at Home

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Remote and hybrid work can benefit workers in numerous ways. Yet, working from home can certainly contribute to feelings of loneliness if you’re not careful.

However, if you take the time to prioritize work-life balance, set clear boundaries, and look for alternate ways to forge social connections, you can boost your mood and form relationships in the community around you.

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