Fostering Virtual Connection Remaining Socially Connected

18.10.2020 |

Episode #9 of the course How to work from home: From surviving to thriving by Jordan Thibodeau and Joe Ternasky

 

“Social connection is such a basic feature of human experience that when we are deprived of it, we suffer.”—Leonard Mlodinow

Welcome back!

In this lesson, we will talk about successfully keeping your life outside of work happy and balanced. This lesson will give you some guidelines on how to schedule social time and how to make the best use of it.

Maintaining your social connections is as important as staying connected with colleagues. You might have rolled your eyes at your crazy coworkers and all those irritating office tropes, but that environment was providing you with social stimulation that you’ll miss once gone. The isolation of working from home can cause depression and loneliness. In Lesson 6, we dealt with staying in contact with co-workers. Some of those techniques will work here as well, but this section deals with keeping you a healthy, happy, and well-rounded person.

 

Have a Conversation!

In all of our digitally-enhanced lives of texting and emailing, what are we actually missing? Conversations. This is the back-and-forth exchange in real-time with someone you like and share interests with. It involves faces and voices, sharing ideas and information, and it is NOT work-related unless you want to dish about work and think it’s fun.

In an office or other work environment, these conversations probably came up a couple of times a week naturally. Now, if you don’t have that ready audience nearby, you might have to seek it out. Luckily, you know the people who can and will happily do this for you: they are anyone with whom you can have a long, lovely conversation. This is someone that you can forget time with and just enjoy each other’s company.

Having a conversation with a friend is one of the most gratifying things you can do for your mental health and your happiness. Not to mention, it’s free to boot!

The traits that lead to a great conversation are very much like those that lead to great work:

Avoid distractions. Focus your attention on the person you’re with, and they should do the same for you.

Make an effort to listen. This means processing what your friend is telling you and responding in a supportive way that furthers the conversation. It does not mean thinking about what you’re going to say next. Listening takes practice, but it makes you smarter, more empathetic, and more likable too.

Don’t converse with the goal of teaching or judging. Talk just for the pleasure of it. If your friend wants advice, they will ask for it. Let your conversation happen naturally and spin-off in whatever direction it wants.

Phone calls can do this for you. Video calls are even better, but if at all possible, get into the same room and have a good laugh or a good long talk with somebody you care for at least once a week.

 

How to Get Out of the House

In your early days of work from home happiness, you might actually have trouble making yourself do this, but do it, lest you become a sad hermit in a bathrobe.

Consider a part-time job. Mix it up by working someplace completely different than your ordinary work: a theme park, a bar, a thrift store. Make it a place with a lot of social interaction and little stress.

Do lunch. Have a regularly scheduled lunch out with friends, co-workers, or even a community of other people who work from home. Lunch out can be pricey though, so consider other options like rotating homes and cooks, or make it a potluck!

Volunteer. The benefits are many—for you, for others, for the world. Organizations that need your help are as close as an Internet search away.

Join workout classes. If you belong to a gym, chances are you have access to a variety of group classes where you can socialize while staying healthy. Community Education programs often have inexpensive and interesting exercise classes available in six-week or eight-week rotations.

Learn new things! Learning a new skill or knowledge set is a great way to socialize, and it takes your mind away from work. Going to a class to learn together with your partner or bestie can be a terrific experience too.

Make definite plans with friends/family. Sunday dinner, trivia night, or barbecue night; the possibilities are endless. The important thing is to have it on your schedule so you can look forward to it. Don’t fall into the “we ought to get together sometime” trap. Nail down some plans, friends!

Play team games. Imagine how amazing you would look in a bowling team shirt. Or, try out that new pickle-ball place. Test your knowledge on a trivia night at your local pizza restaurant. Social apps like Facebook always have lists of such events going on near you.

 

To Do

1. Schedule some downtime for social activities and to reconnect with your friends.

2. Add it to your calendar and make sure to honor this commitment.

Well, that’s a wrap for this class! Thank you for joining us.

When people who work from home are asked to name their biggest problem, can you guess what they say? It’s the feeling that they never really stop working. Working from home is the dream of many employees, but the dream, unfortunately, doesn’t happen easily or even overnight. We’ve discussed major components to consider and pitfalls to avoid. With some effort, a bit of sacrifice, a sense of humor, and a good measure of patience, you will be able to adapt your life to working from home successfully without giving up your ability to live at home. 

If you enjoyed this course, consider enrolling in another! We’ve made several other Highbrow courses that may help you excel in your career:

Building a network for success

Mastering your conversations

Bouncing back from failure

How to accomplish your goals

Managing your manager

Finally, please complete the Highbrow feedback form to let us know what you liked about the course and what we can improve.

Best of luck with your work from home experience, and goodbye for now.

Jordan and Joe

Work From Home Teachers

 

Recommended book

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

 

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