I only started working from home in April. I knew it was always something I wanted to do, but feared I could not handle it. Although I often felt limited in a traditional working environment, I had always made wonderful friends at work. Many of my "besties" from my various jobs remain good friends to this day. So what happens when you find yourself working in an environment when your only “co-worker” is you 6-year-old beagle?
Give yourself a break! You are going to have to make some major adjustments. What time do you wake up? What time of day do you shower? Are you home full-time or do you have outside client meetings certain days? Is it okay to work out in the middle of the day? When do you clean the house? What time do you turn your computer off? When do you first look at email? When are you available by phone?
Those first several weeks are full of many questions. And honestly I am still working out many of these issues. Or maybe they aren’t issues, maybe they are more opportunities to mold the life you want to live when business bleeds into home.
Don’t limit yourself to the 4 walls of your office. Go to a local coffee shop. Set up and work at McDonalds (I have no shame, they have the best pop). Attend networking events. I recommend trying to attend at least 3 within the first several weeks at home. Get involved with local organizations/groups – my favs are the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri and Go Blog Social.
Once you have really hit the streets and introduced yourself, follow up with people. Some people you meet are going to be great potential clients. Other people will refer you to potential clients. Occasionally, you might meet someone to collaborate with or bounce business back and forth. AND you will also meet other people who are in a similar boat, many of which are also looking for someone to commiserate with!! Quit networking!! Start creating relationships that will last.
Seems goofy, how could being online help with working from home, especially in the context of loneliness. But trust me, this may be my favorite way of combating the feeling of loneliness! If you have a business you need to be online. Fire up your social media engines and get busy. Social media is not a one way street, you need to make it a way to communicate with your customers.
Here are some of my favorite articles that will help simplify your social media efforts:
- Facebook Reinvented: The New Way to Combat Tricky Algorithms
- How to Use Twitter to Meet Real People, Create Real Connections and Grow Your Business
- Harness the Hidden Power of Pinterest
- SEO for YOU: Revamp Your LinkedIn Profile in 10 Easy Steps to Land Your Next Job or Client
By making your social media a two-way street there are lots of opportunities to chat with other people, who again are either potential clients, or can relate directly to you and your business. If someone shares an article of mine and tags me in it, I always try to comment and give them positive feedback. Sometimes I will even ask why they enjoyed it or what they got out of it. Often this one-on-one interaction leads to more conversations allowing me to know my readers, potential clients and fellow creatives a bit more.
My absolute favorite way to combat the work from home loneliness is by getting involved in online groups. There are quite a few out there targeted at different types of businesses, industries, location, etc. I am involved in several. But the one I stop by every day is the Savvy Business Owners group on Facebook!! Here I can bounce questions or ideas off of other entrepreneurs (mainly creative women), share successes and talk about resources I find helpful. When others have issues they can ask for advice. I find the help so insightful and personal that I even found myself describing the group to my husband as my “co-workers”. They single-handedly make me feel the most welcome and give me a sense of place no matter where I am or what time of day (it probably helps there are a handful of Brits and Aussies in the group). If you are interested in joining visit Heather Crabtree’s website. You will be sent a link to the group as well as be signed up to get weekly FUNmail and "7 Keys to Streamline Your Business." (I have no affiliation with Heather, I just think what she does is awesome and I love the community she has created!)
Adjusting to working from home can be a process, and sometimes you can feel alone, but there is a community of many like-minded people surrounding you!