Many otherwise ambitious professionals balk at the idea of working from home full time for one simple reason: fear of isolation.
This isn’t an idle worry. Studies show that isolation is a significant driver of negative health outcomes, and that strong social and community connections are very important to one’s overall mental and physical health and well-being.
Does this mean you should reject out of hand the prospect of working from home full-time? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s not only possible to avoid social isolation and loss of community connection while working from home — it’s far easier than you might imagine. Try these five easy, low-cost strategies to stay connected without giving up your home office.
1. Treat Yourself to an Occasional Coffee Outing
Sure, you’ll save money when you stick to home-brewed coffee. But your boring old coffee pot can’t possibly replicate the sense of community and energy you’ll get at the neighborhood coffee shop. So, set aside one morning per week to work at your favorite local hangout. If you’re on a budget, sip slowly.
2. Choose a Community-Oriented Opportunity
For more connection than a weekly Starbucks venture can provide, consider a community-oriented opportunity like fundraising distribution — selling high-profit fundraising products to organizations that do good in your hometown (and, perhaps, beyond). From what we hear from ABC Fundraising, full-time work-at-home fundraising distributors can earn up to $5,000 per month or more, depending on ability and hours worked. That’s serious money for an opportunity built around strengthening connections to your community.
3. Purchase a Day Pass at Your Local Coworking Space
Coworking hubs are increasingly popular as alternatives to traditional office space, and they’re not as expensive as you might think. For the price of two large lattes, you can probably purchase a day pass at your local coworking space, where you’re sure to meet other remote employees and solo professionals. Bonus: the coffee is typically included.
4. Set Standing Lunch or Happy Hour Dates With Other Work-at-Homers
Comb your extended social network for other folks who work at home, build an email list or Slack group, and set standing lunch or happy hour dates at mutually convenient locations. This is a fantastic way to build camaraderie and hatch ideas for new collaborations, too.
5. Attend Professional Development Events
Keep your professional credentials up to date and your social skills sharp by attending professional development events in your hometown. Even if you’re not required by state or private licensing authorities to accumulate continuing education hours, seminars and conventions offer unmatched networking opportunities.
Opportunity Happens When You’re Plugged In
Preserving your mental and physical health isn’t the only benefit of staying connected while working from home. Taking steps to stave off isolation may also have knock-on benefits for your career — whether directly (as when you attend an industry conference or continuing education seminar) or indirectly (when you take lunch with another work-at-homer who turns out to be a prospective client).
Will your efforts to strengthen community connections directly or indirectly advance your career? Time will tell, and the only way to find out for sure is to take the next step.