- 9th February, 2018
Can coworking cure loneliness?
75 blog posts
Working from home has numerous benefits; flexible hours, avoiding miles of traffic, or worse – the rush-hour crush of public transport. Controlling how you work is also a big advantage.
If you talk to anyone new to home working, they will probably wax lyrical about the freedom and the benefits. Ask the same question after six months and chances are they have come up against considerable challenges.
One problem that isn’t so widely discussed, however, is loneliness. And the negative effect that remote working can have on your mental health.
Vivek Murphy, the former Surgeon General of the United States says that loneliness is literally killing us. He states in an interview with CBS that, loneliness, is shortening lives in the same way smoking 15 cigarettes a day does.
It has been suggested that one way to combat the loneliness associated with remote working, is to join a coworking space. A shared workspace where remote workers, start-up employees and entrepreneurs can come together to reduce the isolation associated with coworking.
Many people have the pre-conception that coworking is all about bright young things brimming with enthusiasm and ideas. But as the trend of coworking rises, so does the problem of isolation. Being lonely does not have to run through all your day. Some people are great at work but lonely at home. Other people have an active and full home life but for the 8 hours plus a day they are working feel lonely and isolated.
Take Action – Join a coworking space
Coworking spaces present a wealth of opportunities for meeting like-minded professionals and growing your network. Start by investigating the coworking option in the right location for you. Go and test them out, find one that works for your personality. Look for people who you think you’d like to associate with and provide the level of service you need.
If you are feeling socially remote personally or at work, start with a list. Go through your contacts, your Facebook “friends” and decided on the people you really feel you would like to be with in person. Start with them and work on people who are positive and fun to be with who will make you feel happy. Yes, it is scary and yes, you will have to keep pushing all the hypothetical scenarios out of your mind.
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Consider a different story
Many of us are good at creating a story in our head. But why would someone who seemed to enjoy your company in the past not be pleased to connect with you now. Don’t let your internal voice tell you it must be because they have found more interesting or better fun people to be with. Stand in their shoes. Maybe they are feeling just like you or maybe they think you are too busy or maybe they have just genuinely been busy and not had time.
Approach with positivity
We have already talked about faking it till you make it and never is it more real than now. Don’t approach someone with your melancholy voice, they will just think it might be hard work to be with you even if they want to help. Approach it fresh and happy, and get yourself in a positive mindset.
If you can’t find a way to do this in person use email or text and re-read it to make sure you are sounding up and excited about wanting to catch up…. “Hi, how are you? was thinking about you today, we have not seen each other for ages. Really want to catch up and find out how you have been, are you free for a coffee on Saturday? If not give me an alternative, looking forward to seeing you soon.” Is much more appealing. Yes, you fear rejection and yes, you’re not in the best frame of mind, but this is one situation where it might be important to fake it.
In shared workspaces, many people are in the same position and very happy to share a coffee break or a sandwich with a fellow worker.
Loneliness is extremely painful, but once you recognise the hypothetical distortions it causes and the psychological trap it creates, you will be able to focus your energy, take that leap of faith, and plan your escape. Freedom from loneliness will be amazing once you start to act.
Choosing the right shared workspace
As the coworking sector grows so does its diversity – and there really is something for everybody from you can meet any sort of professional coworker from creatives to lawyers and from 18-year olds to 85-year olds. At Workplace we are particularly business service focused, the home of proworkers, so as much as we have a lovely share of creatives and techies, they are great support for our event organisers, insurance people, recruiters, and lawyers. Much more proworking than coworking.
The mix is very diverse in industry sector and age so there is always someone interesting or helpful to catch up with. As Workplace has a central hub for coffee and chat it means that you get to connect with everyone and having that coffee break with a human rather than a computer is always an option.
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