Tips for dealing with home office isolation

Is isolation making you wonder if it’s time to leave your home office? Working from home can sometimes be isolating, making it hard to stay motivated. I recently mentioned that shared office space can help. If there’s a solution like that in your community, go for it. But here are some other tips for dealing with home office isolation:

Nine tips for dealing with home office isolation

  1. Go for a walk. Get out every day.
  2. Buy a light book. Reset your routines and perhaps your mood.
  3. Create some routines. Buy a latte every morning at the nearest coffee shop. Go out for lunch. Take a lunchtime yoga class. Go for a jog. Incorporate some of the structure you’d have in an office setting.
  4. Rent cubicle space. I’ve seen cubicle rentals on Craigslist for $10 an hour.
  5. Share an office. I know a group of medical professionals who rent out the receptionist’s desk because they have no use for it. 
  6. Work from the library. Take your laptop and grab a desk.
  7. Work from a coffee shop — lattes, WiFi and lots of small business owners.
  8. Share another home office. I know a couple of graphic designers who share a home office. It helps them feel like they’re in a regular office environment.
  9. Invent work that keeps you out of the home. I teach university-level courses. I have friends who teach at community centres. Come up with ways to get out of your home office and get paid for it.

Update: Lifehacker has picked up the above post on home office isolation. One commenter there wanted to know why on earth I’d suggest renting a cube for $10 an hour. If you’re the kind of person who can’t stand working in a coffee shop and you can’t afford to rent an office, renting a cubicle for $10 for a couple of hours once a week or once a month may be well worth it. If the cube comes with free local phone access, you may also save on cell phone charges.

107 thoughts on “Tips for dealing with home office isolation”

  1. Reading this is so interesting for me – since I am considered to start working from home after the summer – but I can not imagine right now any negative aspects ….hmm

  2. Congrats on getting the plug on LifeHacker!

    I have to agree that it is important to get out of the house on a regular basis. With me teaching kids as young as five, I find I need to make a point of connecting with adults so I don’t start sounding like my students.

    One thing I’d like to add to your list is to get involved with your community or your industry. I serve on the board for our local branch of the Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association. There are networking groups, community associations and other groups that can give home-based entrepreneurs an opportunity to get out the house, network and make a difference.

    I find that having an extracurricular activity that has nothing to do with business helps keep me sane.

    Having a furry office assistant (my dog Maestro) who insists on exercising every day also helps.

  3. Skykid, it’s entirely possible to work from home without ever feeling isolated. But I know a few people do run into isolation issues and so I wanted to help them out with a few pointers. Don’t take this as a sign that everyone who works from home feels isolated. In fact, some people thrive on time away from others or get so wrapped up in the excitement of their work that they never get down!

  4. Grab whatever space out of your home that you can. I built the cost of it into the most recent long term gig I got and I will never go back. When you are home the work is devalued by spouse, kinder, etc. temptations abound…should I be cleaning up the kitchen? On top of that, every night the desk gets trashed by rugrats, wife needs to email the book club, etc etc.
    Now, in my 24 hour access cubicle, I rule. If you do not rent space, then you should be billing back your space. What do they think, that youre going to work on the street?

  5. Great suggestions! I’m dealing with some serious work from home blues at the moment. But it keeps me motivated for a business plan I’m working on -a project designed for those that work from home. I’d love if you could participate in my online survey – I’ll enter you into a drawing for $100 as a thank you!


  6. I’m just thinking about how to start my soho work. In the financial crisis, it is hard to find a good job for me. To realize my dream, I’m going to help myself.

  7. If you start your business in a downturn, you’ll most likely be better prepared to succeed in good times, in my opinion.

  8. I’ve been working from home since 2007, and I’ve done well for myself. I am starting to get the isolation blues recently though. I’ve always been a recluse so it hasn’t bothered me that much in the past. When I started out I still continued to have lunch with my former co-workers but after four years-you lose touch. I was happy to find this article! It helps being reminded that I need to get out every day, even if it’s going for coffee, taking a walk, etc…
    Some days it’s hard to get the motivation to get out of your “work clothes” ie; pajamas. Thanks for the comments. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

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