The year 2020 was a challenging one, to say the least. It took a heavy physical and mental toll on most of us. Moreover, it completely transformed the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. A year on, many of us are still riding the working from home train and will do so for a while. However, the home office can be tough whether you’re living alone or with a pack of spirited kids. Though we may not realize it, having colleagues who understand what you do to bounce ideas and make inside jokes with, is a great feeling. So naturally working from home can feel awfully lonely at times. Since last spring we spoke to different members in the Startuplifers community to find out how they’ve been coping with feelings of isolation. Here are 5 tips to beat loneliness when working from home.

Take part in remote events

Thanks to last year’s rapid digital transformation, we now have a huge variety of online platforms for simply hanging out. Whether it’s an after-work, networking event, workshop, or game night, you can now set it up online. Many companies are organizing regular TGIF drinks and even office parties virtually. With a multiplayer party game app, like Jackbox Games, and a home food delivery order, you can take office gatherings to the next level. Of course, you might face the inevitable slow internet connections and equipment failures. However, the experience is still invigorating, collaborative, and a whole lot of fun.

Enjoy breaks together

When it’s time to break for lunch or a coffee, check if some of your colleagues would like to join you virtually. This is a low energy way to integrate some social interactions into an otherwise monotonous day. Your schedule might be packed with back-to-back meetings leaving you craving for some downtime during your breaks. However, a virtual coffee break is still a little different. There are no agendas, presentations, or reports. It can be an opportunity to catch up with your workmates, motivate you to change out of those pajamas, or have a show-and-tell about your pet, or favorite plant.

Create a channel for random chat

Most likely, you’re already using a communications platform, such as Slack, to interact at work. You might have channels dedicated to different divisions, teams, projects, and even for sharing ideas or interesting content. Create a new channel for random chat – essentially the water cooler talk. You can even use an instant messaging app for this, such as Telegram or Whatsapp. This is a space for memes, gifs, random shoutouts, and thoughts, all fun but also safe for work. Organizing events and virtual catch-ups are all well and good. However, a large part of social interaction is the spontaneity of it. You should be able to crack a joke or comment on some breaking news with your colleagues in real-time, without having to set up a meeting. Having a channel dedicated to just that will allow you to do so freely.

Mix up the routine

I live in a shoebox studio apartment with 3 spots for working including the bed. So I fully understand the challenges of mixing things up. After all, there are only so many trips to the fridge you can take. Moreover, if you’re facing strict lockdown measures and are unable to visit a cafe, library, or a co-working space your choices may be very limited. However, try to move around a bit – from the living room to the kitchen, upstairs to downstairs, balcony to the terrace, or facing the window to a painting on the wall. Try changing the lighting or the background music. Take a few short brisk walks, do some pushups or lift your head from the screen and stare out the window instead. Do something small to disrupt that feeling of ‘yet another 8 hours of doing the exact same thing’.

Stay in touch with loved ones

Remember all those times you couldn’t call your parents or siblings or best friend from high school because you just didn’t have the time? You were busy getting to work, then running from one meeting to the next, and back home. Now time is all you have. When you feel loneliness creeping in, take a break and give your loved ones a call. Actually scrap that. Make calling them part of your routine. What better way to beat off those lonely blues than to remind yourself that you’re loved, cared for, and fondly remembered? Also, return the favor by checking in on the people around you as well.

For more stories on the reality of working from home check out this blog post.