Telecommuting

Let’s face it. Without the right skills, telecommuting can be lonely – stuck in your home office all day, not seeing another person face-to-face. Fortunately there’s lots of techniques and tricks to make sure you get a little human contact most days. However, even the career telecommuter who has all these skills down cold can suffer from loneliness during crunch time.

We all have our routines when work is “normal” – going to the gym at lunch for regular workouts, clearing out our overloaded inboxes once/month, etc. However we’ve all had periods of work that are just crazy too. Maybe your boss dumped a major project in your lap with a tight deadline and lots of visibility. Or maybe a coworker just left the company with little advance notice and you have to help cover their responsibilities until someone new can be hired (and trained). These crunch times can be as short as a week or as long as a few months (if they’re more than that, then I’d say that has become “normal” and it’s time to evaluate if you still enjoy your current job).

During these crunch times we tend to keep our heads down and get less human interaction. If you work from the corporate office you might be working through your lunches and taking less breaks to chit-chat with your coworkers. While this can leave you with less human interaction, just having your coworkers around you gives you enough so you probably don’t feel too lonely – and you probably do take short breaks (walking to the cafeteria with a coworker to grab some lunch to take back to the desk?) to chat with others.

But when you work from home things are different. During crunch time you’re probably handcuffing yourself to your desk all day. You’re not taking breaks, not getting out of the house, and not seeing anyone. You probably feel you don’t have time for all the techniques you’re used to using to get out of the house and see people.

If your crunch time is going to only last 1 week, you can probably just deal with that lack of face-to-face human contact. But if it’s going to be a long haul, you might just go crazy from loneliness before you reach the end of the project. So consider carving out just a little bit of time to make sure you get some human interaction.

If you’re used to going to the gym 2 or 3 times each week for a workout and to see other people, try to continue to go at least once/week. Block off an hour on your calendar on the least busy day of the week. Even if you only have time to do a ½ hour workout instead of your usual 1 hour workout, it’s more about getting out of the house than anything else.
Or if you don’t have the time to drive to the gym and back, see if any of your neighbors are around during the day and want to take a weekly walk with you. Even a 20 minute walk will give you some company, get the blood going, and break up an otherwise lonely day.
Perhaps you can take your laptop to a coffee shop once in a while and use their wireless access to continue working. You probably won’t talk to people much at the coffee shop (and we know you don’t have time for long conversations anyway) but you’ll be out of the house and around other people.
Can your spouse work from home occasionally? If so maybe now is the time to push him or her to try it one day/week. Again, you’ll be too busy to hang out with your spouse much (and make sure he/she knows that in advance) but just having another person in the house can take away that lonely feeling.
What about driving into the office once/week? Even if you can work from home every day, going into the office now and then will break up the monotony of working in an empty house week after week.

If you can just find a way to make sure at least a few days a week you see other people in one form or another you’ll find it much easier to bear a long crunch time without feeling too lonely.

Bottom Line? Experience huge gains in time, money, and stress reduction by telecommuting. You deserve it! But don’t dive in unprepared. Make sure you know how working from home differs from going into the office. I invite you to get your free copy of my “Top 10 Telecommuter Mistakes list” – to learn the wrong ways… and right ways… to get your telecommute career on track: http://avoidgoingtowork.com/free

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