Remember co-workers? Those annoying people who you're forced to share an office with -- some of them friends, but most of them insufferable.
The pandemic has given many of us the opportunity to get away from these people. And yet, when we do work at home all day, every day, we might find that we start to miss that kind of companionship, and feel more than a little lonely.
It's all too easy to become enormously demotivated in this situation, and to begin to feel like your work is pointless. Worse, when you get stuck or something bad happens, you seem to have no-one to turn to -- at work, we were all in it together, but now you start to feel like you are out on your own.
Even if you don't feel like it's affecting you, the lack of human interaction could be causing you quite a few problems.
Ask yourself honestly if you've been more irritable than usual recently, found yourself lacking in energy, or felt upset or sad without being able to figure out the reason why. If you have, then it could be related to home-worker loneliness.
Since you are already working online, you might find it worthwhile to get on a search engine and find a few forums for your industry, especially ones dedicated to people who run their businesses remotely. You might think what you do is too obscure, but it's a big network out there.
Also, there are many groups on LinkedIn that you can join, volunteer for, and use to make connections and expand your network.
Finding new business connections on the web can be good a good alternative for replacing the lost interaction with some co-workers.
More than that, it can offer you a good outlet for your frustrations and problems -- many of the people you're talking to will have been through the same thing themselves, and will be more than happy to sympathize with you and offer advice.
There's only one thing to be careful of, though: don't let chatting about everything and nothing on the web interrupt your work. Especially, stay away from anything controversial, such as politics, vaccination mandates, etc.
Give yourself a certain amount of time each day to talk to your newfound 'colleagues', and don't go over it. You don't want to be sitting there pressing 'Refresh' on a long discussion when you should be getting some work done, do you?
Here's a good way to turn your loneliness into an advantage: get closer to your clients! The customers that will be the most loyal to you are the ones that trust you and know you, and going to meet with them sometimes as someone closer can be rewarding on both a personal and a business level.
If you look, you might be surprised at how many things there are out there that you could join. Perhaps your area has a Homeworkers' Society, or an association for your industry that holds regular meetings?
Go along, and you could find some new friends, as well as some good business contacts. Two or three groups should be enough.
You've seen those people who seem to be doing work in Starbucks, right? Well, they've figured out something valuable -- being at home alone all day sends you crazy, and it's nice to get away sometimes and have some coffee while you work.
Over time, you'll even become a regular, and people there will start getting to know you.
Most people have a list a mile long of friends and family that they've been meaning to get in touch with for ages, but never seem to have the chance.
A great thing to do can be to make a big list of all these people, and then phone or email one of them each week, in one of your breaks.
Not only does this fight loneliness, but it's also a plain fun and nice thing to do.