Online freelancing presents tremendous benefits, but with these benefits come cons. One of the most popular problems freelance workers face is social-isolation. Why is it so common? Because as freelancers, we tend to work by ourselves. And since the projects sometimes come in autonomously, we never get the time to get social. This can make you to absolutely disconnect yourself from the outside world.
A 2012 Freelance Industry Report revealed that over 2% of freelancers interviewed said social isolation was one of their biggest challenges. That number might seem small, but a recent study from Epson EcoTank revealed alarming figures. Out of 1000 UK freelancers that were surveyed, 48% admitted to finding freelancing lonely. 46% said it was isolating.
As a full time freelancer now, I don't think my vote would be otherwise. There are lots of effects of social isolation. I found a great post by Clifford Singer, Health Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness. I believe you will find it helpful.
But before you cross the line, there are things you can do to avoid social isolation as a freelancer.
Below are some tips that you can use to avoid or manage social isolation as a freelancer.
1. Define a schedule and stick to it
When you find yourself stuck in your home office for the whole day or even night, and so little to show for it, then there is a problem. The more you stay in your office, the more you disconnect from the world. So first things first. Set a schedule for your work and free time to connect with people. You must make sure you stick to it, for it to work.
2. Use social sites to get social
As a freelancer the truth is you have minimal time to get new people into your life. Thanks to social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can actually easily get to know people you share interests with, and connect with them even offline. I don't do this often, but I make it a point that every month I connect with someone in my town with the same interests and meet. for lunch.
3. Work in shared office spaces
Most people who have had traditional jobs with traditional offices tend to miss that kind of working experience. If that applies to you, consider working in shared offices or co-working spaces. Know what the cool stuff about this kind of places is? -they sometimes have computers and even free internet. A simple Google search of “offices spaces in [your-town]” should do the trip. Replace the [your-town] with your city or town name.
4. Find a part time offline job or volunteer
This is another great way to avoid social isolation. It works for me 100% of the time. For my case, I've got an offline business. So I often spent time with staff and sometimes clients. It gives me the opportunity to connect with people. You could also volunteer to work in charity companies like baby homes for just a day in a week or so.
5. Join an association
Last but not least is to join an association. Now this doesn't need to be related to the business you are doing. Just anything you have interest in. Where I come from, wedding meetings are a big thing, and people are always looking for committee members and all that stuff. Just think of what is connecting people in your community and be part of it.
Even though we freelancers work by ourselves, freelancing does not have to be a lonely career. These tips will help you beat social isolation. Tip #1 and #4 work for me. Pick one or two that you can afford and suit your lifestyle.
I would love to know how you get social and avoid social isolation as a freelancer. Please leave a comment below.