As someone who has the word “community manager” in her job title, the irony is not lost on me that I’m writing a post about my own struggle for more in-person connection time, but here we are. Almost a year ago, I started working from home, which had been a major goal of mine during my previous 9-to-5 office job.
And while I love the freedom and flexibility that comes from working when and where I want to (home, coffee shop, another city), something was missing.
It wasn’t until I realized that the bulk of my daily banter was happening over Zoom, that I came to the realization that I deeply missed true in-person connection.
I know what you might be thinking: I don’t have to work from home. I could go to a coffee shop, co-working space, library, etc. However, the bulk of my days are filled with back-to-back video calls, and the thought of sitting in a coffee shop all day while on video, and likely jacked on caffeine and spending more money on lunch doesn’t excite me. If you work from home, I know you can relate to this and the feeling of loneliness that home-work-life can be. Sometimes not even a good playlist, lit candle, and a totally clean space can get me excited about sitting at my kitchen table and grinding through the work. My goal for 2020 is to find a dedicated space where I can work at least 2 days a week. Until that happens, here are a few things I’m intentionally doing for more IRL connection.
Delete Dating Apps.
That’s right – I led with the big one! Being on my computer all day, then turning around and opening my dating apps to “get to know someone” started to make me feel uninspired. It’s why I didn’t even start online dating until 2018. I was holding out hope I’d meet a guy the old-fashioned way, and after some wins (and a lot of misses), I’m back to going old school and meeting in person. This forces me to get out more with friends and not rely on an algorithm to figure it out for me. Plus, I’m 10x better in-person. Maybe even 12x better.
Put One Dinner Date a Week On the Calendar.
I love having something to look forward to during the week, and as much as I try to book an evening workout, I’m just not that kind of gal. I like to start my day with movement and end it with a glass of wine and catch-up with a friend. This gives me a good excuse to try new restaurants, connect with pals, and depending on the space and the energy, meet someone — you never know!
Invite Friends To My Workouts.
My preferred method of movement is typically a class and one that I go to alone so I can just have “me time,” but I’m starting to invite friends to join. Some have joined me for a walk around the lake, and others have met for coffee after — either way, it’s been an instant mood boost to my day and makes all the difference. I’m also making even more of a concerted effort to do this as I’m *this* close to purchasing a Peloton bike, which means even more time at home.
Dedicated Co-Working Time.
Until I find a place where I can both take Zoom calls and speak loud-ish, I found my ideal spot to work from in town that is both inspiring and good for people watching. I’ve been dedicating a few hours once a week in between my big calls to go to Swedish Hill for lunch or a coffee, and it’s been great to both people watch and run into a lot of friends and acquaintances. It’s not ideal for all-day working, but it’s close and makes me feel like I’m out and about.
Try New Spots For Everything.
I’ve got a gym, a coffee shop, a go-to dinner spot, a sandwich shop, a nail salon . . . you get my point. If you need a rec for anything, I have it, and there’s a good chance they know my name. Which is great, but I kind of go on autopilot mode and I’ve noticed that can stifle my curiosity. It’s time to try all new things for all of the things. I can only imagine the wonderful and new humans I’ll get to connect with just by expanding my horizons. Sounds so simple and obvious, yet in the day-to-day grind, I’ve been choosing easy and comfortable, and I’m excited to grow.
My fellow work-from-home’rs, what do you do to build or maintain in-person connection time? How have you navigated this space?