With 13% of people in the UK now working from home and 60% of employees forecasted to join them in a decade, what can be done to avoid feelings of isolation?
If you’re working from home you’re living the dream right? You have the flexibility to work around your other life commitments. No more 9 to 5 – you choose your hours. No more commuting – you don’t even need to leave the house. No distractions. It’s just you and your rules.
So, how’s this work life balance working out for you?
Like 5.4 million other people in the UK, I work from home and have done, on and off, for over 10 years. I work for myself and love it. I love the freedom it gives me. I don’t have to deal with office politics and I can work to suit my creativity at different times of the day for the greatest results. It sounds perfect doesn’t it but I’m going to be honest here: it’s not.
Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t change my work set-up for anything but I do miss the interaction you get from working in an office. Socialising keeps my brain active and I don’t mean social media either. In fact, that’s a whole other challenge right there, which I’ll file under procrastination for now. What I miss is real, face-to-face conversation with someone other than my dog.
Ironically, I’m not alone in feeling lonely and, according to research conducted by Brigham Young University (and recently reported in the Guardian), this could be bad for my health too.
Brigham found that sociability is linked to mortality. Those with stronger social relationships have a 50% increased likelihood of survival. Low sociability can be as damaging to the human body as being obese, smoking 15 cigarettes a day or never exercising.
Take what you will from those statistics but I know personally that social interaction does make a real difference to my wellbeing, creativity and, interestingly, my productivity.
What’s the solution then if I don’t want to go back into full time employment and I’m not a huge fan of networking? Well, I have found a way to enjoy the best of both worlds and the answer lies in ‘work hubs’.
Work hubs have been quietly popping up in and around towns in the UK and, with local government supporting the initiatives as a way to create a greener economy, these co-working spaces are becoming very popular.
What’s a work hub? Work hubs are workspaces offering desks and shared facilities such as printers, photocopiers, tea, coffee and broadband, which can be booked as and when needed. Perfect for mobile/remote workers, small businesses, nomadic freelancers and home workers, these hubs can act as a professional front to a home business offering the use of meeting rooms and virtual addresses.
The FunkBunk, the local work hub just outside Wing, Leighton Buzzard, stops me going mad on my own at home. When I find myself feeling cut off, unmotivated, distracted by unimportant household chores like sorting through the under stairs cupboard, I pop in to the ‘Bunk for a sanity check. It’s informal, friendly and flexible. I go in when I want and leave when I want. I can talk to people if I’m in the mood, or I can just work there quietly in the company of others. It makes such a difference to my output and discipline, and reignites my enthusiasm and focus like nothing else I’ve tried. If it’s true what they say about health and socialising, I guess visiting the Funkbunk is like a gym membership for my brain. The hardest thing is getting out and going there but it’s worth it when you do.
Kia Cranwell – www.e-copywriter.co.uk