This article was written by our friends over at Running Remote
Remote work grants the gift of flexibility and autonomy. We choose when we work, where we work, and often how we work. In 2020, Buffer and AngelList collaborated on a State of Remote Work survey. Feedback was gathered from over 3,500 remote workers around the world. Loneliness was one of the top challenges for people who work remotely — a trend seen in previous years of the annual survey.
Some remote workers have a hard time with loneliness and feeling isolated while others do not. What is happening here?
One way to explain this is to take a look at something that everyone has in common with every other person. We seek connection with others. Being part of a community can help you fulfill this basic need. We are building one such community at Running Remote, the premier event for the founders of remote-first businesses. It works not only during our in-person gatherings and virtual events but all year around. You can access all content of our previous event held on June 17-18 and network with other attendees buying a post-event pass for only $49.
Belonging to a community improves your well-being
There are benefits of being part of a community. Some are easily recognizable such as having similar interests. Others go deeper, like having the sense that you are part of something larger than yourself.
Jonathan Haidt, a professor and the author of The Happiness Hypothesis, said that social networks could help you through a crisis: “Children as well as adults who weathered crises while embedded within strong social groups and networks fared much better; they were more likely to come out stronger and mentally healthier than were those who faced adversity without such social support,” he said. “Social networks didn’t just reduce suffering, they offered avenues for finding meaning and purpose.”
In these uncertain times, being able to connect with others matters more than ever before. A community can be a support group in your time of need. Being able to share a common space with people that understand what you are going through is powerful. This same community can also lift your spirits where you can enjoy a laugh or two, which helps strengthen social bonds.
Have you thought about getting involved in an online community but aren’t sure where to start? We’ll cover that next.
Ask yourself, “What matters to me?”
A wise person once said that we can become better coaches by asking, “What matters to you?” With that question, you are seeking to understand another person’s point of view by listening. You can adapt that approach to help yourself bring to the top of mind interests and activities that make you happy.
Try this 3-minute thought exercise.
1) Grab a pen or pencil and a sheet of paper.
2) Get your phone.
3) Write the following in the middle of the paper:
What matters to me?
4) Set a 3-minute timer on your phone. Next, jot down thoughts on the paper as they pop into your mind. Scribble every idea and keep going until the timer runs out. Now check out your list.
5) Circle three of them that make you smile. Then add more details to get specific. Details are the antidote to vagueness.
Here are a couple of examples to nudge you along:
– One day, you spontaneously bought a small house plant while getting groceries. You wouldn’t consider yourself as someone with a “green thumb,” but your plant is thriving on your desk. You’ve been bitten by the gardening bug and want to know about the house plants that other remote workers are growing in their homes.
– You’ve worked remotely for six months since venturing out on your own. Some days feel like a crazy rollercoaster ride. On most days, you learn something new, and you are absolutely enjoying the journey. However, at times you feel stuck and wonder, “Is anyone else struggling with [this type of problem]?”
So how do you find a community that is the right fit for you? We’ll help you answer this question next.
Join an online community for people with similar interests
An online community is a great way to meet people that share common interests as you. You can connect with people regardless of where you are located in the world. Search online to discover communities for hobbies that you find interesting on Facebook, Reddit, Slack, and other channels.
But what if you are looking for people like you who work remotely?
This is where a remote work community can be invaluable. A remote work community can help you create deep, meaningful connections with people across the world with similar experiences. Imagine being part of a community that listens to you, withholds judgment, where you can connect with members emotionally. These experiences can create friendships that last a lifetime.
Peter Gruber, in his book, Tell to Win, introduces us to the idea of vulnerability being an underappreciated asset that we all have. “Everyone has something in common with every other person. And you won’t find those similarities if you don’t open up and expose your interests and concerns, allowing others to do likewise”, says Gruber.
In other words, embrace your interests even if you think they are “weird” because they are what make you unique.
It may take some time, and it will be worth the effort to get out of your own head and engage in a remote community for people like you. You’ll know you’ve discovered a community that is the right fit when you find yourself saying something like: “these people understand me!”
Mattering makes us happy. However, we are not islands and need a sense of connection.
A community can help you feel connected through shared experiences and interests. You can be part of a remote community if you’re working on your own by reminding yourself that belonging to a community improves your well-being. Next, ask yourself, “What matters to me?” to spot interests that make you happy. Then join an online community for people with similar interests.
Would you like an opportunity to connect with other professionals who work remotely? Running Remote Online is a free online edition of the wildly successful Running Remote live conference, held annually for the last three years, which delivers insightful case studies from top remote work experts who have scaled their businesses without a physical office space. Register for our next events or get a post-event pass to all content, special offers from the event partners, and networking for only $49. Don’t miss the latest insights on the future of work!