As mobile technology becomes more advanced and Internet access increasingly ubiquitous, working remotely has become a more viable and oftentimes more practical option for a majority of the always-connected workforce. Additionally, it seems the freelance economy is on the rise, with a growing number of people preferring freelance work where they have the opportunity to earn more compared to traditional jobs. Hence, there are more professionals working from home or coffee shops than ever.
And why shouldn’t they?
There are benefits to being a freelancer working from home. You dictate your own schedule, there is no dress code, and no expensive rent to pay for an office space. You don’t have to suffer the painful commute to and fro, getting stuck in traffic jams, or feeling like canned sardines when the trains are full during rush hour.
INTENTIONAL SOLITUDE OR SOCIAL ISOLATION?
Yet, solitude bliss can easily turn into loneliness if you’re not careful. According to the Perspectives on Psychological Science journal, social isolation increases the risk of mortality by 29%, while living alone can increase the likelihood of death by 32%. Loneliness can lead to a negative spiral affecting both your physical and mental health. Feeling lonely can lead to depression and anxiety, and can also cause insomnia, inflammation, or a weakened immune system.
Social isolation also means there is no one to ask for help. Nobody to discuss plans or strategies with, or bounce ideas off of. Even among those with traditional desk jobs, lone workers are more prone to stress, accidents, and violence from customers and clients. Lack of any social interaction can lead to serious health issues, such as high blood pressure, and can affect our learning and memory.
Or worse, you could end up like Sandra Bullock’s character on The Net. (Yes, I know this movie came out before many of you reading this were even born, but believe me it’s worth 2 hours of your time.)
CONNECTED YET DISCONNECTED
We all have ways to connect now with rampant social media posts and group chats, yet these can sometimes exacerbate our feelings of isolation. It’s quite a different energy being able to interact and collaborate with other human beings face-to-face. Remote workers will tell you that at least once they had to leave the comfort of their homes and work in cafes just to have other people around them.
CO-WORKING SPACES TO THE RESCUE
Co-working spaces can offer you what you need: the solitude to focus and the community to inspire you or offer assistance if necessary.
You can fulfill some of your social needs by attending events hosted by your co-working place, network with other freelancers and remote workers, and even learn a new skill such as photography or app development.
Sky-high rents and time wasted commuting can also be easily avoided nowadays with the rapid growth of co-working spaces — one might just be located near where you live.
You can still be flexible with your work schedule, especially with a number of co-working spaces now operating 24/7. Though you may not be able to work or take virtual meetings in your pajamas anymore, at least the temptation to crawl back into bed isn’t getting in the way of your productivity.