As a telecommuter one of the potential downfalls is a feeling of isolation. The conventional work place where we spend 8 or more hours a day puts us in a position not only to instantly and constantly communicate about the function of doing the work, it provides an incredibly necessary opportunity for us as human beings to interact and fulfill foundational portions of Maslow’s Heriarchy of Needs.
As telecommuters what do we do about it? Well, first we have to recognize this true need for our emotional well being. Each of us is different so this is highly subjective. In me I went through periods of mood swings. I realized that as a military reservist I felt closer to people I’d been around for two days a month than those in my workplace I communicated via phone every single day. I recognized that in the past I socialized at least two or three times a week in one way shape or form with people in my conventional work space. My kids recognized how moody I was. I recognized that I filled the void with video games, TV or working on other solo tasks. Although they were fun things they weren’t fulfilling, leaving me in a funk and only moderately helping with the real issue.
So what do we do to overcome the isolation? When you’re in the “funk” of isolation, you may not recognize that there really are a lot of options. You may feel trapped with only those in your immediate household so you have to reach beyond them. The local old fashion newspaper is still a great resource. Check into a church or community service. Take a class or join a martial arts school. Ask around with the few people you do know.
How did I overcome it? Get out there and do it. Through acquaintances I was sponsored to join a local Rotary club. From there I’ve met a number of individuals, learned about charitable efforts locally, enjoy casual coffee with a number of them and the club calendar provides more opportunities. Pursue a special interest. I’ve been checking out local boat clubs over the past two years and joined some. Nearly every publication has a web version. I’ve also found there are those web sites like MeetUp that use the web as a chance to get people together in real life who have all kinds of shared interests. [I’ll blog at length on MeetUp in another entry].
Will this cure everything? Well, you may still pine for the days when life was filled with the conventional office drama of who is interested in who and who stabbed that guy in the back. But having other circles of people to back fill that in your life can be just as intriguing and safer for the career.