By now, you may be sick of hearing about job losses across the globe and remote working style as the “new normal”. I don’t have to remind you how struggles were widespread across every level of organization during the first half of 2020, but in time, teams found their flow and figured out how to make remote work efficient for them.
While many are eager to return to the workplace and see all their colleagues face-to-face, there is a growing number of people who have decided to stay remote full-time. Maybe you lost your job and consider setting up your own business, so you want to commit yourself to growing your brand. As a full-time entrepreneur, you'll spend countless hours in front of the computer and likely face temptation to overwork simply because your office is wherever you are.
It's exhilarating, isn't it? But it can also come with a host of challenges you've never encountered before and aren't sure how to go about resolving. That's where this post comes in as the beginner's very basic guide to working alone is all about learning to develop the ideal work/life balance for you, no matter where you earn your paycheck.
At the end of the day, your job isn't just a chore to check off a to-do list. It's your purpose, or at least one of them.
Hopefully, it intrigues you and fills you with a strong sense of connection and motivation. If it doesn't, though, working alone can be even more difficult, so this guide will also tackle tips for finding the motivation to work when you aren't working your dream job and loafing around is more tempting than clocking in.
Test - Are You Suitable for Working Alone?
Here's a simple test designed to help you gauge if you're well-suited for working alone. Answer each question with a "Yes" or "No," and then tally up your responses to see where you stand.
- Do you consider yourself self-motivated?
- Can you manage your time effectively without supervision?
- Do you find it easy to set and stick to your own deadlines?
- Are you comfortable with not having in-person social interactions during work hours?
- Can you effectively separate your work life from your personal life at home?
- Do you have a dedicated workspace that is free from distractions?
- Are you comfortable communicating and collaborating with team members remotely?
- Can you stay focused on tasks without direct oversight?
- Do you feel confident troubleshooting minor technology issues on your own?
- Are you okay with the idea of taking breaks and lunch alone?
8-10 Yes Answers:
You seem to be well-suited for working alone. You possess the self-discipline, motivation, and comfort with solitude that are crucial for thriving in a remote work environment.
5-7 Yes Answers:
You may be somewhat suited for working alone, but there might be areas that could use some improvement. Consider what changes you could make to your work habits, environment, or skills to better adapt to working alone.
0-4 Yes Answers:
Working alone might currently be challenging for you. It's essential to identify the specific areas where you feel less confident and seek ways to develop those skills. Alternatively, consider hybrid work models that allow for both in-person and remote work.
Did You Know?
- Working Alone In General: Before the pandemic, approximately 5.2% of U.S. workers were fully remote. Post-pandemic, this number has significantly increased, highlighting the growing prevalence of working alone.
- Isolation and Loneliness: A survey by Buffer on remote work found that 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness when working alone.
- Depression Rates: Individuals who work remotely or in isolation report a 25% higher rate of depression compared to those who work in an office setting, according to a study by Mind Share Partners.
- Productivity Insights: 85% of remote workers feel they are more productive in their home office than in a traditional workplace, suggesting that working alone can positively impact productivity for some.
- Work-Life Balance: 30% of remote employees say they struggle with work-life balance, indicating that working alone can blur the boundaries between personal and professional life.
- Environmental Benefits: Working from home can reduce carbon emissions by over 54 million tons annually, a silver lining to the increase in remote work.
- Health Concerns: 22% of remote workers report that their physical health has declined due to a sedentary lifestyle and prolonged screen time.
Setting Up Your Office
You might be fortunate enough to have the space in your house for a dedicated home office. If not, you aren't completely doomed to work from your sofa or dining room table forever. Even in a small space, a few smart investment pieces can give you an area that's all about getting work done. This is important for a few reasons.
First, a home office creates division between work and play. If you find it hard to work because you're constantly distracted by all the things you'd rather be doing at home, then a dedicated space will make shifting into work mode easier. This doesn't have to be an entire room, either. A compact desk in the corner with some well-placed décor can become your productivity oasis. The fundamentals of any good office space are:
- Standing and adjustable height desks are even better because they help you stay active.
- Desk chair with lumbar support.
- Printer for reference docs, contracts and any other important files.
- Noise-cancelling headphones.
- Ergonomic keyboard and mouse with wrist support to prevent carpal tunnel.
Now, there may be other things you deem essential to your home office, whether it's a cat on your lap or cactus on your desk. What matters most is that you create a space that inspires you to work. Even if you don't absolutely love your job, sitting down at your desk should make you feel capable and eager, not filled with dread.
If you aren't able to finance everything you need right away, consider taking out a personal loan. Small loans for home offices come in many sizes; you can explore your options and choose a lender with flexible repayment options that suit your budget.
Did You Know?
- Stress Levels: Research by the American Psychological Association found that remote workers experience stress levels that are 29% higher than those of on-site workers, partly due to the isolation of working alone.
- Feeling of Disconnect: 70% of remote workers feel left out of the workplace, according to a report by Virtira, pointing to the social disconnect experienced when working alone.
- Communication Challenges: 16% of remote workers cite communication as a major challenge, which can contribute to feelings of isolation and misunderstanding.
- Increase in Work Hours: A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the average workday for remote workers has increased by 48.5 minutes, indicating a potential for overwork when working alone.
- Mental Health Support: Only 25% of companies offer mental health resources to their remote employees, highlighting a gap in support for those working alone.
- Job Satisfaction: Despite challenges, 65% of remote workers reported they would not return to an office full-time, suggesting that the benefits of working alone may outweigh the drawbacks for some.
- Economic Impact: Remote work is estimated to have saved U.S. employers over $30 billion per day during the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing the financial viability of working alone.
There are four keystones to a good personal business life to be mindful of:
- Ample sleep
- Routine movement
- A balanced diet
- Mental health care
Sleep helps your body repair itself both mentally and physically. Working overtime, staring at your phone in bed and letting yourself miss crucial hours of rest all negatively impact your functioning throughout the day.
What's worse is that if you're struggling with work, you're prone to toss and turn at night, worrying about what you're going to do tomorrow. Increased stress makes it harder to fall and stay asleep, which only kick starts a nasty cycle of demotivation, lack of energy and poor sleep.
Movement is important for physical wellbeing, but exercise also plays a role in your emotions, too. Your body and mind aren't separate; everything affects each other. By incorporating physical fitness into your day, you can de-stress and balance your energy rather than feeling torn in one direction or another.
Diet fuels the body, which fuels the mind. You may find yourself reaching for quick fixes in the kitchen or eating more now that you can grab a bite whenever you want. Snacking to alleviate boredom is a common habit, and one that many people struggle with when they start working alone.
Focus on eating healthy and minimizing trans fats and unnatural sugars. Aim for three balanced meals a day and two snacks. This will help your metabolism remain stable and keep your mental health in check.
Speaking of mental health, it's important to be honest and accepting about how you feel. A lot of people avoid asking for help because they're worried people will think they're stupid or incompetent. But everyone struggles, and working on their own initiatives is an adjustment. If you're feeling lonely because you're alone all day, reach out to friends and family. If you're stressed because you feel like you have too much work, think about how you can manage it differently. Sometimes, you may just need to assert boundaries that stop you from overworking. This will keep your work/life balance more even and prevent burnout.
Did You Know?
- Social Skills: 33% of remote workers believe that working alone has slightly deteriorated their social skills, impacting their interpersonal interactions.
- Creativity and Innovation: Some studies suggest that isolation can increase creativity for certain tasks, as 58% of remote workers report having more space and quiet to think.
- Professional Development: 45% of remote workers feel that working alone has slowed their professional growth due to fewer networking opportunities and visibility.
- Technology Dependence: 80% of remote communication is non-verbal (emails, messaging), which can lead to misunderstandings and feelings of isolation.
- Sleep Patterns: 19% of remote workers say their sleep pattern has been negatively affected by the irregularity and flexibility of working alone.
- Adaptation and Resilience: 75% of remote workers report they have become more adaptable and resilient as a result of navigating the challenges of working alone.
Getting Yourself Ready For Working Alone
Working alone is no longer something for non-conformists. People are learning how to make work more enjoyable for them, and it's given many people who were once chained to a desk more opportunity to enjoy life without sacrificing their jobs.
Millions of people are already embracing their own new small business as a part of their culture to give themselves more freedom, allowing themselves to set their own schedules or at least adopt a system that makes their jobs more enjoyable and, as a result, boosts productivity.
As a firm believer in working alone, I have to tell you that if you can't stand being alone, you won't survive in this current climate...
Let's face it, in today's economy, the ability to work independently is more important than ever. With the rise of remote work and the gig economy, individuals who can work alone and take initiative are highly valued. If you're someone who constantly needs social interaction and can't handle being alone, you'll struggle to be productive and successful in this kind of work environment.
Working alone requires self-discipline, self-motivation, and the ability to work independently. You need to be able to set goals, manage your time effectively, and stay focused on your work, even when there are no coworkers around to keep you accountable.
Sure, it can be tough to work alone, and it can get lonely at times. But if you're serious about succeeding in today's economy, you need to be able to handle working alone. So, if you're someone who can't stand being alone, it's time to start developing your self-discipline and independence. Take on small projects and build up your ability to work alone over time. With practice and perseverance, you'll soon find that you can thrive in a solo work environment.
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