If you are among the 4.2 million people in the UK who work from home, you’ll probably be familiar with the bittersweetness of remote-working solitude.
From one stance, uninterupted alone time is a great productivity tool, with general job satisfaction and happiness tending to increase in people who work from home. By the same token, however, the lack of interaction that comes with home-working can often have a negative effect on overall wellbeing.
Even if you are the sort of person that thrives in your own company, the loneliness can be so insidious that many entrepreneurs and freelancers (of which there are 4.8 million) simply don’t realise just how much they draw on outside stimulation... until it’s gone. It’s no surprise then, that a study conducted by Buffer in 2018 found that 21% of remote workers had experienced loneliness.
Yes, there are the definite positives of flexibility, being in comfortable familiar surroundings and no commute, but the impact of having no office ‘vibe’ to bounce off cannot be underestimated, particularly as the symptoms tend to manifest so subtly and unexpectedly, often as little more than a feeling of being 'out of sorts' .
This is a particular occupational hazard for social influencers and content creators, who have to contend with the real life solitude, AND the more complex, subconscious feelings of alienation this career path can sometimes ensue. It’s often known as 'small fish syndrome’, and it’s something that rarely comes across through the showreel that is social media.
However, with the number of UK workers who have moved into remote-working having increased by nearly a quarter of a million over a decade (according to the Office of National Statistics), this issue of loneliness is one that certainly needs addressing. It is a plight that tends to be associated with older generations, hence there is a certain stigma which is undoubtedly preventing many admitting to their feelings and getting the help, advice or support they need.
The worry here is that, if left untreated or ignored, this kind of loneliness can lead to depression - a problem which affects many (30% in fact) entrepreneurs.
From a resolution perspective, there is a certain irony that the solution to the problem might (to some extent) lie in the virtues of the positives. As freelancers or Entrepreneurs, the freedom to choose when, where and how we work equates to a springboard for social repositioning. For example, choosing to work from a coffee shop can lend a feeling of being reinstated as a real, active participant in the world... something that can elude in the four walls of a domicile!! This simple mindset switch can be crucial to overall wellbeing and productivity as an entrepreneur, as is simply recognising when you need to go for a walk, exercise, take a break or even a 'workcation'. Melyssa Griffin wrote a great article on this topic which you can read here.
For more information and support on this matter, visit the Marmalade Trust website.