3 tips for avoiding loneliness when working from home

How to create positive relationships with colleagues when you work from home full time.

Working from home can cut you off from the spontaneous interactions that can spark new insights. And, at times, the solitude may lead to isolation or the feeling that you’re left out at work. How can you combat loneliness and create positive relationships with colleagues when you work from home full-time?

First, since you’re not physically interacting with co-workers, it’s important to seek out an online community of like-minded practitioners. Discussion groups allow you to share successes and challenges and ask sensitive questions that, especially because participants are geographically dispersed, can be answered honestly and without feelings of competition.

Second, it’s especially useful for at-home workers to leverage video technology. Instead of phone calls, I’ll almost always book Skype or Zoom meetings so that I can see the other person.

Finally, make a concerted effort to learn more about the personal lives of your colleagues. When you work from home, there’s a natural tendency to avoid “wasting time” with small talk; it may seem like a better move to focus exclusively on work-related conversations. But that may be a mistake. So before a meeting starts, ask your colleagues about their recent vacation, their daughter’s sports matches, or their upcoming nuptials. These small details can create bonds that enable you to build deeper relationships that are both personally gratifying and professionally beneficial.

Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

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