Working from home has many perks: running errands during the week rather than fighting through the crowds at the weekend, being able to work in your PJs (actually, I’ve only done this once but I do like the option), taking breaks when you want to and not having to worry about commuting. But there is a dark side that many people don’t realise or even want to admit: it can be lonely.
Until I set up my own business as a Virtual Assistant, I had always been an employee. I enjoyed working with colleagues to bounce ideas off and enjoyed the usual office banter. I loved having a little chat in the kitchen with colleagues, asking what they did at the weekend.
It’s a very different story when you work alone. There is no-one to have a banter with and no-one to talk about what I did at the weekend. Unless I count the cat, but he’s only interested in me when he’s hungry.
I am very fortunate to be part of many Virtual Assistant Facebook groups. It’s a very supportive, safe place to ask questions and have a chat, but it’s still not the same as sitting down with someone face-to-face over a cuppa.
I believe we humans are social creatures, and solitude, for long periods of time, may not be a good thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this could have an impact on our mental health and well-being too.
I know a few people who have mentioned to me that they haven’t been out of the house for six days! I have to leave the house once a day due to family commitments but if I didn’t have that, I do wonder how many days I would be in the house before realising I hadn’t been outside.
A handful of times I have sat there and looked at my phone to see who I can call, just to have a conversation with an actual human being. But my friends all have 9-5 office jobs and they can’t leave their desks to have a ten-minute chit-chat with me.
One way I meet other people is by going to networking groups; there are a few I belong to and they meet on a monthly basis but I feel I need more interaction than a few times a month.
I started reading about co-working spaces used by freelancers. I’m sure this concept has been around for ages but I’d never really looked into it until I felt I needed one.
After some research, I found a local company that offers co-working facilities. I made an appointment with the manager and went in. The offices were sleek, the desks had ample room for working, a lot of light and had all the mod cons you would expect from a working environment. I was offered a free day trial, which I accepted (who am I to refuse a freebie!)
I thought Wednesday would be a good day to use my trial day as it breaks up the week. It took moments to set up my wi-fi connection and I was ready to go.
There were about three other people there. A lady, who was sitting nearby, introduced herself to me. We chatted for about ten minutes and I realised how much I missed talking to another person. I was networking without actually realising.
The area wasn’t pin-drop quiet but also wasn’t distractingly loud. I got a lot of work done and when I left, I felt my day had been incredibly productive.
This co-working space was EXACTLY what I was looking for. But, as with everything, it comes down to money. Their cheapest package offered access for five days in a calendar month. As I am looking to do this one day a week, the cheapest package is the best option for me. I know I can’t invest in it right now but I will be signing up soon as I can really see the benefits a of co-working space.
Another option I have is taking my laptop to a coffee shop. There is a lovely tea shop nearby and I’ve worked from there before.
Someone I know meets up with people she met at networking groups for a coffee morning once a week. They don’t always talk about work: they discuss what did at the weekend, what their children are up to and a general chat about their lives. I can really see the benefit of this.
There is a dark side to working from home full-time but it’s important to recognise it early on and find ways to manage it.