How to Have a Social Life While Working At Home. Alone.
It’s the dream of so many people to work from home. It’s such a popular dream that there’s an enormous industry built completely upon convincing people that their dreams can come true – an industry that rarely keeps its promises, but one that keeps on going because of the sheer force of hope on the part of so many people.
Yet what many folks don’t think about are the things that are lost when one doesn’t work outside the home. One of the biggest of these things is socializing. Love them or hate them, one’s co-workers are a big source of social support in one’s life. Having someone to say hello to in the morning; having someone to whisper about the boss with in the coffee room; being able to complain about your teenage son, or brag about your gifted granddaughter – these things and more are a very important part of your life, even if you don’t realize it at the time. And working at home means you lose it. Right?
Not necessarily. It’s true that you aren’t going to be able to visit face to face with your co-worker who sits in the next cubicle over, but it’s also true that no one is going to be looking over your shoulder to see who you’re emailing or when you jump on the phone. As long as you do what you need to do, there’s no reason you can’t socialize up a storm while working from home. You just need to do it differently.
There’s email, there’s Facebook, there’s the phone, there’s Skype – the list of ways to connect with other people is getting longer by the minute. If you’ve never taken to these forms of communication, then it’s time to learn to do so. You simply won’t have other chances to socialize with people, as this work is not done in an office building or factory, and so this will be your only ability to say hey, what’s up to a friend or colleague. You will be amazed at how many people check their email all through the day, or are available for a quick chat. Make yourself available too, when you can, so that you can get some social time in among your research and writing time.
Another thing that will be important for you as you work alone from home is finding people “in the real world” whom you can talk to. In the summer months, when things are a bit breezy and work is slower than usual, that’s not such a critical thing. But when it’s early November and everyone’s under maximum pressure to write as much as possible so as to earn as much money as possible – well, tempers can fly high and blood pressures can inch up the scale. That’s the time you need someone to whom you can vent – someone who knows the work you do and understands enough of it to be an empathic listener.
Finally, remember this job is mobile! If you use a laptop for your work, you can take it outside your home and work almost anywhere. Coffee shops are great places, as they tend to have electricity and wi-fi, but lots of other locations make fabulous places to work! Libraries, parks, restaurants, bars, even a place like Grand Central Station – find a few spots where you can go and work that aren’t in your house. You will find that just being around people can make you feel that you are getting social time, and it will take the edge off the alienation that can arise when spending so many solitary hours, day after day.