Working Remotely Over the Holidays: 5 Ways To Avoid Isolation
The end of the year can be a time of mixed emotions: excitement, joy, stress, anxiety, and isolation. But working remotely over the holidays can intensify these feelings, especially for those who tend to do things independently.
Being away from a busy office or not having to commute through light-filled streets are benefits we usually want from remote work. However, it might make you feel like you're missing out on all the fun during the holiday season.
However, there are ways remote workers can avoid feeling lonely and isolated during this season. This blog post will discuss tips and strategies to help remote you stay connected. Whether you are new to remote work or have been working remotely for years, these tips can help you stay connected to the people who matter most.
Remote work is a lonely affair
Working remotely over the holidays can look like visiting family members for two weeks instead of three days or even staying home in your pajamas all day. But those who tend to work by themselves can end up feeling lonely and isolated.
As remote workers, you often trade flexibility for social interactions. Watercooler chats, spontaneous coffee runs with coworkers, or just talking about your day in the hallway can be tedious for some in a regular setting. But when the end of the year comes around, it also means we skip out on holiday parties or other events where we can gather to celebrate our accomplishments.
The challenges of working in a virtual team can increase during this time, especially for those who may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. Being away from the office and away from coworkers and friends can make it challenging to connect and feel a sense of community.
Even on regular days, remote work can be a lonely experience. A study of remote journalists conducted before the pandemic showed that full-time remote work increased loneliness by 67% compared to on-site work.
According to Buffer's State of Remote Work 2022, being unable to unplug from work and struggling with feelings of loneliness remain the main challenges for distributed team members.
Loneliness and mental health concerns often go together. According to Cigna, adults with mental health issues are more than twice as likely to experience loneliness than those with strong mental health. That's why remote employees and companies need to pay special attention to creating environments of support and connection.
5 Ways to avoid isolation while working remotely
In the northern hemisphere, as the days get shorter and colder, remote workers might be tempted to stay home and avoid going out as much as possible. Snowy weather or freezing temperatures can deter elusive remote workers from stepping outside and basking in the holiday joy.
But cutting out social interaction and staying inside are sure ways to ruin your overall wellness and mental health. If you're a remote worker and tend to stay indoors during the holiday season, here are some tips on avoiding feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Make a plan to connect with friends and family
Family relationships can impact an individual's experience of loneliness. Research by Cigna says that around 45% of lonely adults say their family has usually supported them through life, compared to 78% of non-lonely adults.
One way to avoid feeling lonely during the holidays as a remote worker is to make a plan to connect with friends and family. This could involve scheduling virtual gatherings, such as video calls or online game nights, or making plans to visit in person.
For example, you can have a holiday dinner with your family or visit with friends over the holidays. Getting involved in organizing a fun time for yourself and your loved ones can help you feel more connected and provide a sense of structure and purpose.
Stay connected with coworkers
Another way to avoid isolation during this festive time is to stay connected with your coworkers. This could involve setting up regular virtual meetings or finding online communities where you can connect with others in a similar situation.
You can join a professional online community or a virtual coworking space to interact with others and share ideas. If you have a coworker who lives in the same area, you can meet up for coffee or spend a day working together.
If meeting up in person is too difficult, you can set up dedicated calls to talk about non-work related topics. Be intentional during those times and ask how they are feeling. Just offering to listen to someone can change their mood and make them feel included.
Staying connected with coworkers will make you feel part of a community even if you are miles apart.
Take care of your physical and mental health
One of the most important things you can do during this festive time is to take care of your physical and mental health.
This involves ensuring you get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and spend quality time with friends and family. Also, take some time off work to rest and focus on yourself.
Easy ways to incorporate exercise into your routine are going for a walk or following a workout video at home. Practicing self-care can look like taking a relaxing bath or meditating.
When you take care of yourself, you can be there for others. These activities will help you stay healthy and energized and hopefully make you want to engage in what's going on outside the comfort of your home.
Make an effort to participate in holiday activities
Staying inside all day, avoiding the terrible weather, can provide a false sense of security. While you stay warm and cozy at home, you miss out on the opportunity to celebrate or have a good time with loved ones.
When working remotely, it's a good idea to make an effort to participate in holiday activities. As humanity returns to pre-pandemic normal, it's easier to join in outdoor festivities. Visiting your local holiday market or observing the light decorations on the streets can get you in the holiday spirit.
If you’re religious, you can join in the celebrations your faith usually carries out. Make plans to meet with fellow believers or family members to attend special services and events that are organized by your community.
You could even get involved in a local charity to prepare meals for people in need, donate to families who can't afford to buy gifts for their children, or spend time with elders at retirement homes.
If you refuse to set foot outside your doorstep, you can try decorating your home and cooking special dishes while having friends over. Putting thought into creating connections with your loved ones during these times will help you avoid feelings of loneliness.
Reach out to others who may be feeling isolated
Checking in on your coworkers or other friends who work remotely is one way both parties can feel supported. Be mindful of those prone to feeling lonely and send a message or make a call to ensure they are doing alright.
You can offer to connect with them virtually or to make plans to visit in person. The support and companionship you provide to others can make you feel connected and into the holiday spirit.
How can employers support remote workers during the holidays?
The end of the year is a time of celebration and to go over the past year's accomplishments. Managers can use this time to connect with their team members on a personal level.
Engaging in conversations about non-work related topics during already scheduled meetings or creating new ones thought only for social interaction are great ways to check in on employees without overstepping boundaries.
Companies can also host online events to celebrate employees, review the past year's wins and solidify the company's remote culture. Better yet, host a company off-site or corporate retreat where everyone can get together and spend time interacting as humans, not just as coworkers.
When managers take the time and effort to connect with employees, it not only makes them feel valued and appreciated, but it can go a long way in supporting their overall well-being. Besides, you avoid common leadership mistakes of leaving remote workers to their own devices and becoming confused about their expectations.
The holidays can be a hard time for remote workers. For many, this is a time to celebrate and connect with their loved ones while exchanging gifts and sharing meals.
Remote workers can feel left out of the festive spirit because they cannot celebrate with their coworkers in person. But having flexibility over your schedule means you can decide how and where to spend your time.
Making plans to meet up with friends and family or simply staying in touch with coworkers can make individuals feel like they are part of something.
Whether it's through virtual gatherings with friends and family or reaching out to others who may be feeling isolated, there are many ways that remote workers can avoid feeling lonely and stay connected during the holiday season.
By implementing these tips and strategies, remote workers can enjoy the holiday season and feel a sense of community and connection.
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