According to research released by office supplies company Viking, the majority of UK freelancers experience feelings of loneliness on a daily basis. An issue which has only been exacerbated by the recent rise in home working and social distancing as a result of the ongoing COVID crisis.
Viking carried out a survey of 1,500 workers, half of whom were office workers, the other half being freelance professionals. Results revealed that 64% of freelancers feel lonely due to the nature of their jobs every single day, compared to just 29% of office workers.
These findings are also supported by the Office of National Statistics’ Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, which demonstrated that in April this year, a third of workers felt that they were spending too much time alone.
Freelancer loneliness is not a new phenomenon but is an issue which is only going to worsen as restrictions on social interaction continue as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, if not addressed efficiently.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a handful of suggestions, which address present and future, to help combat loneliness as a freelancer to improve wellbeing and productivity.
Pick up the phone more regularly
Digital technology: where would we be without it? Gadgets and the internet have enabled us to be so much more streamlined in how we communicate. This is super advantageous when it comes to efficiency but not so much when it comes to socialisation.
Emails, texts and instant messages are all great but in order to fend off loneliness, you need to ensure your communication methods extend beyond pixels and emojis on a regular basis. Pick up the phone, hear people’s voices and engage in spontaneous conversation to feel more connected.
Join Facebook groups and online freelancer communities
According to industry statistics, there are more than 2 million freelancers in the UK right now. That’s a whole lot of people in the same boat, experiencing the same feelings and battling with the same issues.
Facebook groups and online communities dedicated to freelancers are the perfect place for these people to come together, unite in their similarities, grow through their differences and just provide a support network for those who might be feeling isolated or disconnected.
Make time for face-to-face interactions
Given the precarious nature of what is and isn’t permitted in terms of social interaction at the moment, this might be more of a long-term tactic for combatting loneliness. However, it is still crucial not to underestimate the value of in-person meetings, both professional and social.
Wherever and whenever it is possible and safe to do so, make sure you schedule in some time for coffee catch-ups, walking meetings, lunch dates or dinner. Face-to-face interaction enables you to reap the proven benefits of eye contact, body language and more accurate interpretation of things like tone of voice and facial expression.
Relying solely on digital communication risks problems such as misinterpretation (crossed wires) and subsequent anxieties and strain on working relationships, exacerbating loneliness.
Use co-working spaces for a change of scenery
Again, if and when it is safe to do so, consider swapping your quiet home office for the hubbub of a shared co-working space every once in a while. This way, you can meet new likeminded people, see fresh faces and strike up conversations that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have.
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