For those working in an office, nipping over to the kitchen to top up your coffee can double up as a moment away from your desk. It’s a chance to catch up with colleagues about office gossip, or which box sets you’re currently chain-watching.
But what about those who run their own businesses or work as freelancers? Who do you chat to when you’re working from home or contracting?
We know from our research that many self-employed people miss these water cooler moments. According to our Safety in Numbers report, almost half of self-employed people miss the social side of working in an office and being around other people.
Just because you’re a lone-worker, doesn’t mean you have to be a lonely worker. In this article, we take a look at some ways you can combat the solitude.
Listen to podcasts
Over the last decade, podcasts have become a natural part of our daily routines. Psychologically, podcasts can fill the space normally taken up with typing and work-based chatter, or provide comforting and subdued background noise, especially since TV can be far too distracting. In one way, it can help you to feel less alone and in another, it provides welcome relief from the silence.
Find a coworking space
Co-working spaces could be the ideal answer to dealing with self-employed loneliness. Many believe that having a specific space to work in, as opposed to working at home, boosts productivity and the communal aspect of a co-working spaces give freelancers the opportunity to meet people and experience that same office buzz without sacrificing their self-employed status.
For lone-workers, this can bring about a sense of community that you might be missing, especially if you were previously employed in a regular office. There are other added bonuses too, such as free WiFi, heating, water, meeting rooms, and even maybe a pool table.
Alternatively, hot-desking allows for flexibility and offers you the chance to pick and choose where you work, simply plugging into any hot-desk office as and when you like. There are a variety of options for hot-desking, either from larger providers such as Regus or Hubble, who may offer more locations, to local providers who may have more of a community spirit. A quick Google search should throw up a number of places around you.
You’ll probably meet different people in each place you work from, which can be great for networking. The simple act of getting up, dressed and leaving the house to go to work will instantly make you feel less alone.
Use social media to find other self-employed people
Despite reports that social media causes loneliness, for those working alone, it can be a lifeline, giving them the opportunity to chat with like-minded professionals, exchange stories and even co-work on projects. Our research shows that 30% of self-employed people haven’t made any new friends since they started working for themselves.
Even though the evidence does suggest sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t having a completely positive effect on people’s mental health, they can bring people together, even if that’s a remote connection.
Schedule meetings and networking events
Our research has told us that having someone to talk to during the working day is something the self-employed really miss. 37% of our respondents have said they miss having a laugh with colleagues and 32% miss having people to talk to when they struggle to stay motivated. Interestingly, these statistics are higher than money worries, with just 23% saying they worry about cash-flow.
Attending industry events, like business shows or lectures, will give you the chance to add work-related events to your calendar, getting you out of the house and chatting to people in the same industry as you. Alongside the valuable knowledge you’ll gain, you can also build meaningful professional relationships, which is especially important if you miss the interaction of the office.
Another way of beating the loneliness of solo-working is by scheduling meetings with your clients or speaking over the phone instead of email. Even if it’s just informal meeting in a local coffee shop, you’ll be getting much-needed interaction and cultivating personal relationships, which is as good for your business as it is for you personally.
Make time for self-care, for getting fresh air, for a hobby
Many self-employed people have told us that they don’t take enough breaks in their working days, with 30% of our self-employed respondents even working on Christmas Day.
Self-care is a really important aspect of maintaining good mental health – even if it’s just making sure you get changed out of your pyjamas for a day of working in your home office.
You must make sure you’re nourishing your body with plenty of water and good food that you love, and get a daily dose of fresh air. Even just ten minutes outside will boost your productivity and help you feel more connected to the world around you.
Hobbies can be a welcome distraction from work, so now’s the time to take up your knitting needles or dig out those roller skates. If you enjoy exercise, making sure you find the time to be active is really important for your wellbeing. Yoga is especially great for encouraging relaxation, as well as mobility and balance, which is especially important if you are finding working for yourself stressful.
At Crunch, we know that loneliness can be of those self-employed problems you didn’t account for. That’s why we started Crunch Chorus – a free community for the self-employed, complete with monthly meet-ups and a Facebook group.