As a remote worker, staying connected isn’t all about the reliability of your WiFi. Sometimes, staying connected is about nurturing healthy relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and yourself.
17 Tips for Staying Connected While Working from Home
Telecommuting comes with a lot of bells and whistles, but it can also feel lonely at times. When the honeymoon phase ends and the reality of working from home kicks in, it’s up to you to stay in touch with the outside world. Consider these 17 tips for maintaining personal and professional connections as a remote worker.
1. Get on Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are quick ways to catch up on people’s lives. Spend a few minutes browsing your news feeds and comment on a few photos and posts. Simple interactions let people know you exist and that you want to keep in touch.
Stay connected with your professional network by hopping on LinkedIn occasionally. Search profiles for new contacts in your industry and share articles related to your job and company. Consider writing and publishing articles of your own to display your knowledge and expertise. Strike up conversations through direct messages to maintain relationships with fellow telecommuters.
Use caution, however. It’s easy to get sucked into social media and waste time. Set time limits for yourself, such as ten minutes per day or an hour on weekends. Also, steer clear of negativity and unfollow people who consistently post negative messages. Instead, choose to follow and connect with people who post positive messages. Happy news can boost your energy and ward off loneliness.
In fact, James Fowler of the University of California San Diego believes that social media is a vehicle for happiness. His research group measured the emotional content of Facebook posts in 100 U.S. cities for three years. The results suggest that online social media platforms like Facebook can cause “emotional contagion online” and help spread positive messages around the world, ultimately boosting global happiness.
2. Use Online Collaboration Tools
Online tools like Slack, Basecamp, and Google Hangouts create a sense of community among remote teams. You can chat with coworkers just like you would in an office, contribute to group conversations periodically throughout the day, and private message colleagues with birthday wishes, condolences, and congratulations.
Depending on your team’s culture, throw in some friendly emojis and memes to lighten the mood. Set aside a thread for “shop talk” and fun, such as weekly jokes, trivia questions, and photos.
3. Hold Regular Meetings
Harvard Business Review found that one of the keys to successful remote team management is holding regular meetings or one-on-one conversations. If you’re a manager, consider holding weekly or monthly meetings to check in on your team. If you’re a team member, ask your manager to schedule time to chat. The more you communicate with colleagues, the more connected to the team you will feel.
4. Create a Daily “Commute”
Telecommuting returns the time you’d otherwise waste driving to and from work, likely during stop-and-go rush hour traffic. If you previously made personal calls during your daily drive, consider adding a “commute” to your work-at-home days. However, instead of sitting in a car, you can make coffee, throw in a load of laundry, and put the dishes away. Turn your previous commute chats into chore chats so that you’re staying connected while knocking of items on your to-do list.
5. Schedule Personal Phone Conversations
Life is busy. It’s normal to get caught up in career and responsibilities and neglect relationships with close friends and family. However, the more you neglect your inner circle, you more disconnected you feel in the long run. It may sound strange to schedule personal calls like they’re business meetings, but it helps to dedicate time solely to your most important relationships, especially if you live in different time zones.
6. Set Calendar Reminders
Load up your calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, and other important events, and set reminder notifications so that you send emails and greeting cards on time. Though social media posts and text messages are nice, handwritten notes make a longer-lasting impact for special occasions.
7. Find a Telecommuting Buddy
Author Dan Buettner tells Business Insider that work best friends improve our productivity and happiness. If you work on a remote team, find a couple people to chat with regularly. Regardless if the chats result in a deep, meaningful friendship, it’s nice to keep open communication with colleagues.
If you have a friend or family member who telecommutes, consider meeting up for a work date. You can hold each other accountable and work through some of your telecommuting challenges together.
8. Make Lunch Plans
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can’t leave your house in the middle of the day. Make a lunch date with a friend, another remote worker, or neighbor. Staying connected could mean something as simple as getting some fresh air, trying a new restaurant, or exploring your neighborhood.
There’s no need to fight the lunch rush, however. Meet up an hour before or after the busy time so that you don’t have to deal with long lines and traffic. Better yet, schedule a virtual lunch with a fellow telecommuter. Use an application like Skype to video conference while munching. It’s a great way to commiserate with someone who experiences similar work-life challenges.
9. Work at a Coffee Shop
Hit up a local coffee shop whenever you feel cooped up and stagnant. Sometimes, a quick conversation with a barista and room full of strangers is all you need to feel like you’re a part of society. Make it your mission to visit every coffee shop within a ten-mile radius. When you find your favorite location, chat with the baristas and they’ll get to know your preferences. Over time, you may receive some perks for being a frequent customer. Plus, you might recognize other regulars after a while and strike up a conversation.
10. Rent Coworking Space
When the coffee shop is too busy or distracting, consider renting a coworking space. Most spaces rent desks for the day, week, or month and include WiFi, printing services, and meeting rooms. Plus, they are great places to meet small business owners, web developers, designers, online marketers, writers, and other creative and business professionals. Some coworking spaces even host events, classes, and social gatherings and offer free or discounted tickets to members.
11. Attend Professional Conferences and Events
Just about every industry has a professional organization that hosts an annual conference. Check out the local chapter and sign up for a networking event. If feasible, attend their national or international conference to learn about the latest best practices, upcoming technology, industry projections, and occupational training.
Go into each event with the intention to learn, share, and connect with one or two individuals. Send follow-up emails to the people you meet and keep in touch through LinkedIn.
12. Join a Local Meetup Group
Meetups are fun ways to find people who share your personal and professional interests. Almost every city has meetup groups for hobbies and lifestyle activities such as running, biking, yoga, knitting, and wine tasting. There are also professional groups focused on knowledge sharing, career development, and discussing industry best practices.
Some groups are targeted to small business owners, freelancers, writers, coders, and marketers. If you don’t find a group that suits your needs, consider starting your own telecommuter group. Schedule low-key events for lunch, industry discussion, and coworking. Finding other remote workers in your city can help you feel like you’re staying connected to your local community.
13. Dedicate Time for Family
Working from home isn’t the same as spending quality time with your family. Though you are physically present more often, it’s important to devote time exclusively to your loved ones. Consider the following when deciding on the best strategy for staying connected to your family:
- Plan weekly family nights where you completely shut down your remote office, turn off your computer, and silence all notifications.
- Observe vacation days and holidays, and train yourself to clock out every day.
- Establish clear boundaries to help maintain the work-life balance that telecommuting affords.
14. Get to Know Your Neighbors
If you spend most of your time at home, you might as well get to know the people in your neighborhood. Start with a simple “hello” while getting your mail, bringing the trash cans in, walking the dog, or weeding the garden. Have a quick conversation with each encounter and look for common ground. Once you establish a sense of camaraderie, you’ll enjoy seeing familiar faces in your community, which can help make life feel homier and more secure.
15. Read the News
Spend a few minutes each day reading the headlines in your local newspaper, and check out national and international news sources. Learning about what’s going on in the world makes you feel like you’re a part of it and less isolated in your private telecommuting universe.
16. Spend Time in Nature
Stroll through the woods during your lunch break, work offline at a neighborhood park, or sit by the water and daydream after you clock out. Get away from the office and sit on the grass, stare at the clouds, and watch the leaves fall. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do to perk up your mood and make you feel energized. Even just a few minutes can center you and help you feel connected to everything else in the world.
17. Make Room for You
Devote time every day to take care of yourself. Exercise, meditate, journal, cook – whatever helps revive you. Give yourself a space on your priority list so that you stay in touch with who you are, where you are going, and what is truly important. Treat yourself to something nice, like a new pair of shoes, massage, or bottle of wine. Reward yourself for your hard work so that you stay connected to your inner self and know you are a priority in your life.
Final Thoughts: Keep in Touch
As many wise leaders have said, with freedom comes great responsibility. To truly enjoy the freedoms that telecommuting provides, create a flexible work structure and put in the extra effort toward staying connected to the world around you.
Initiate conversations, schedule follow-ups, set reminder notifications, and utilize online applications. Find other telecommuters who can relate to your situation, and take your office to a coffee shop occasionally. Most of all, keep your family and closest friends in the forefront of your mind and set aside time to take good care of yourself.
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