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May 2021: Is Alienation in the Home Office a “Thing”?

Publication date: 11 May 2021

It is natural to assume that the massive switch to work from home that occurred in the past year would lead to increased isolation and alienation. Surprisingly, Buffer’s 2020 vs. 2021 State of Remote Work surveys show a noticeable decline in alienation among remote workers – from 20 down to 16 percent.

This could be due to a variety of factors. We’re guessing it has something to do with the nature of the home office being “permanent” for the time being, so coworkers are more likely to socialize via virtual calls more frequently in the day, as well as feel more “at home” – at least, more than usual.

Loneliness and silence can be very beneficial for productivity at times. But they are not healthy in the long run. Here is how to make the home office less alienating.

Isolation Doesn’t Have to Mean Complete Lack of Interaction

Numerous companies still allow (some even require) their employees to work from home. Even though work colleagues don’t have the opportunity to hang out by the water cooler during the day, it doesn’t mean that they can’t interact at all.

There are still plenty of ways to socialize with friends, family, or colleagues on a daily basis. For example, you can have a video call during your break with your colleague and drink coffee “together.” Sometimes, it is enough to comment on someone’s LinkedIn post to get the conversation going.

Online Team Building

Has your team done an online team building session? If not, maybe you should suggest one.

The aim of team building is to help people who have to work together feel connected and improve their group dynamics. Virtual team building was invented to help team members who are unable to work from the traditional office re-connect and learn to coordinate their efforts remotely.

There are several amazing online activities you can engage in, from playing video games together to hosting virtual dinners or BBQs.

Digital Detox

Nowadays, people spend most of their day in front of screens, whether it is for work or relaxation. Even though smartphones and the Internet allow people to stay in touch with their friends, family, and co-workers, it is sometimes good to take a break from all digital devices.

Here’s a suggestion:

Keep track of your screen time and limit it. When you use your smartphone, try to use it for socializing instead of mindlessly scrolling through your news feed. Turn off all your devices at least an hour before bedtime (or just turn silent mode on) and take a break from the screens. You can spend time with your family instead or relax with a book, music, or even a new hobby.

Socialize Like in the Good Old Days

With all the rules, restrictions, and curfews, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spend time outdoors like we used to. However, it is still good to leave home every now and then and socialize like in the good old days.

Take a hike or go to the beach (if possible, with your friends and family) and spend your free time socializing outdoors. Catch some fresh air whenever possible. Remember: everyone is going through this. You just have to make it work for you.

Disclaimer: Work from home comes with lots of advantages, but also a few disadvantages such as alienation. But, just because you can’t physically be in your office doesn’t mean your relationships have to suffer. If you ever feel lonely, remember it’s okay to reach out. But, it is also important to accept if someone else reaches out to you.


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