Everyone loves working from home! No commute. You can get the laundry done and protect your packages from porch pirates. And, you don't have to deal with annoying co-workers who listen to loud music, constantly snack on crunchy foods, or have less than perfect hygiene habits.
But, you know what you don't have when you work from home? A lot of face-to-face interaction with live humans.
Zoom meetings are different. Slack conversations are different than sitting at lunch with someone. While people who worked together for years and then switched to work-at-home two years ago can more easily maintain those relationships, it can be difficult for new hires to make friends and fit in.
While managers and HR should be wary of making friends with their employees, it's OK to make friends with peers.
If you're feeling lonely, here are some things you can try to make new friends.
Return to the office.
Right now, it seems like it's just the evil bosses who want people to be in the office, but it turns out a lot of people want to be in the office. A Gallup poll found that while 91 percent of people currently working at least partly from home wanted to maintain that, slightly less than half (48 percent) of people who could work from home but are currently working in the office wanted to change that.
Fifty-four percent of people working want to work in a hybrid situation--where you are in the office sometimes and at home at other times.
In other words, if you miss the office, you're not alone.
Cut back on your work.
If you're lonely, you may also compensate by working crazy hours. And if you're working at home, it can be challenging to separate work time from personal time. Sure, you're sitting down to watch your favorite episode of The Office, but is your laptop on your lap? It happens.
Zoom fatigue is a real thing. It's OK to say no from time to time, and it's OK to work realistic hours. Remember all those studies that say a shorter work week causes an increase in productivity? Give yourself a break.
How does this help with loneliness? Well, if you're constantly working, you don't have time to do other things. And because overwork can lead to depression, you can lack the desire to do anything you don't have to. So take a break.
Join a group.
I've worked from home exclusively for 13 years, so I make it a point to make friends and connect with other humans to keep me from going crazy. For instance, I take improv classes, am an active member of my church, and just joined a group that goes to museums together.
There is likely a group in your area full of people who share your interests. If not, start one. Other people like you are out there.
Don't suffer alone. If you're to the point that you don't have the energy to go out there and meet people, call your employee assistance program and ask for help. They can direct you to what you need to feel better.