Ask Sophaya: Why Do I Feel So Lonely

Dear Sophaya,

I love my job. I’ve been working remotely for a great company for about a year and a half. The pay is great. Management is so supportive. And I really do like my peers too. 

There are only two of us who work remotely. The rest of the team sits together in a small office space almost a hundred miles away from me. They seem like genuine friends and spend time together after work and occasionally on weekends. I have to be honest that I feel a little left out. 

I don’t want to quit, because I really do love my job, but how can I get more involved?

Left Out and Lonely

Dear Left out and Lonely,

Working remotely while loving the job you do and the people you work with is a dream for so many people. However, it’s completely normal to feel left out when you’re not able to participate — especially when you really like the people who are spending time together.

It seems like you have two choices to rectify the situation and feel less lonely. You can either make an effort to trek to their central location a few times a year so you can participate too, or you can find a community of remote workers in your area to build relationships with.

Let’s first talk about how you can get more involved in your local community since this will be the easiest option for you. If you ever work from a coworking space, make the initiative to get to know the other professionals who are members there. Many coworking places offer off-hours socialization events, so show up and socialize. Don’t let the anxiety of meeting new people hold you back. Remember that this crowd of professionals intimately understands the remote-working lifestyle, so you’re likely to bond with them quickly.

If you work at a coworking space that doesn’t offer after-hours activities, take it upon yourself to plan something simple and leave invites out for everyone to see. There are endless low-cost options for planning a get-together, too: rent a lane or two at a local bowling alley, reserve a couple tables at a bar, or throw down a few picnic blankets at a concert in the park.

But, you might not be a member of a coworking space. In this case, all of the above suggestions still apply, though you’ll have to be more creative about how you find business peers. Search Facebook for groups of like-minded adults in your area. You might find there’s already a coworking community that exists online. Make a suggestion to get together for a night out. Another option is to join a local networking group, even if it’s a paid membership. (Pro tip: ask your supervisor or HR department if they’d consider paying your membership fee) Networking communities often have scheduled plans at least once per month. And don’t forget about local businesses either. Coffeeshops, restaurants, and other businesses will often sponsor free drop-in networking activities. Show up and socialize.

Though, there is one more option. You can drive to where your company is located and participate in the happy hours and weekend celebrations your coworkers are already having. Sure, you might have a two-hour drive ahead of you, but you can book a hotel room for the night and make a mini-vacation out of it. Just be sure to let your coworkers know that you’re coming in advance. Plans can get canceled for many reasons, and you don’t want to be stranded there with nothing to do if everyone is sick or there’s inclement weather.

Finally, you might want to mention this to your supervisor. Let them know that you’d like to participate in face-to-face activities. Ask if they’d consider paying for your lodging if you’re willing to drive up for an in-person training. This way, you’ll get to spend your workday with your teammates, and then still catch a meal with them off-site later too.

The life of a remote worker can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. You have every opportunity to spend quality face-to-face time with like-minded people. Now get out there and do it!