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Connecting at work

There are many benefits to working by yourself – you can work from home, set your own hours, decrease travel time and costs, and juggle chores around the house at any time.

But the freedom of working for yourself can have its downside too – it can lead to a feeling of loneliness or isolation. As a sole trader this can be literal as you are more likely to work alone, but business owners who employ staff can experience these feelings too.

The loneliness of working out of home and lack of social contact at work is a major challenge. Social isolation is a real problem

Monique, Freelancer

Keeping your social connections strong is very important as the benefits of social connection are associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and more trusting and cooperative relationships.

To lower your chances of feeling isolated or alone at work, it’s important to be proactive on simple steps you can take to increase your social connections in your business, especially if you don’t spend much time on your social life outside work.

Easy steps you can take to increase your connections in your business

  • Kick start your day with a conversation: Make your business calls first thing in the morning so you’re connecting with life outside your immediate work space.
  • Chat to customers and suppliers: Broaden the conversation beyond business with customers and suppliers. This not only benefits your health and wellbeing, it can also build stronger business relationships.
  • Schedule in a lunch break and get out of the house: Leave your home office or job site for lunch. Meet up with a friend or colleague, strike up a conversation with a neighbour or the local café owner. One of the benefits of business ownership is that you have the autonomy to build a weekly work routine that suits your needs.
  • Work in a shared space: Joining a co-working space, co-letting an office with other business owners, or working from a café for a couple of hours will immediately reduce social isolation. Decide how many hours it suits you to share your work space, so you get the benefits of both working alone and with others within your working week.
  • Build a professional support network: Having a mentor or other business peers you can call for advice or just a general catch up can be invaluable, especially if you miss the camaraderie of colleagues. You can do this online too and connect with like-minded people through national and local business forums or social media accounts.
  • Attend business networking events: Join your local business chamber or business enterprise centre and schedule in time to attend their networking events, especially during traditionally quiet times of the year.
  • Be proactive about catching up with friends outside of business hours: If you’re struggling with a lack of social interaction at work, it may be important to compensate with a richer social life outside of the business. Initiate regular catch-ups with friends after work.

Reaching out

If you’ve tried several activities to incorporate connection into your work routine, but still find yourself struggling with feelings of loneliness, it may be helpful to talk to an expert.

Make an appointment with your GP and discuss your options, such as a referral to a psychologist.

Although this may seem like a big step, part of resilience is knowing when to ask for help. The sooner you act, the more likely you will prevent a deterioration in your mental health.

Further reading

Flying solo – working alone

A webpage for the self-employed that discusses the ups and downs of being self-employed and provide tips and tricks on how to get the most out of working alone.

More Resources