Let’s face it: working remotely can be lonely. Yes, we love the independence and flexibility that being a freelance editor or proofreader allows, but there may still be times when we feel isolated while we work alone in our carefully organised home offices.
So, how can we better connect with our fellow language professionals while leveraging the many great perks of working from home? Here are seven loneliness-busting ideas to get us started.
1. Create a virtual water cooler
The legendary water cooler is where much camaraderie among colleagues is famously built. While we may not have physical access to the real deal, modern technology offers us many options for both professional and informal connection with fellow editors.
Find your tribe of language experts online. You could search on social-media hang-outs, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, for relevant professional groups. Or you may prefer a small WhatsApp group of local editors. There are many online community platforms out there, so explore the digiverse until you find a place where you feel comfortable exchanging technical expertise or grammar jokes that only a language fundi would appreciate. Make this your virtual water-cooler chat spot and pop in during your coffee break to help grow a sense of belonging and community.
2. Take advantage of your professional organisation’s offerings
I have found the Professional Editors’ Guild (PEG) invaluable for connecting with other language practitioners. Try to attend any in-person PEG meetings in your region; hop on the PEG Coffee Conversation video calls for informal chats about interesting and relevant topics; sign up for informative webinars and subscribe to the PEG chat egroup. These activities all build rapport while offering excellent professional development opportunities.
3. Try working somewhere different
If you are in a larger centre, you could experiment with a coworking space where people come together to work independently. Or maybe it’s occasionally working in your local coffee shop that appeals to you, with a bottomless cup of brew next to your laptop . A change of scenery and having other people about may just make you feel less disconnected. But if, like me, you are easily distracted by people-watching, a coffee shop may be better reserved for a well-earned break.
4. Schedule time with your loved ones
One of the perks of working remotely as a freelance editor is that your day is more likely to be flexible. For some much-needed human interaction, devise a work schedule that intentionally maximises regular time with your loved ones. Wherever possible, arrange your work hours so that they don’t conflict with your family’s downtime. Pencil in video calls to the special people in your life who are too far away for regular in-person contact. Be intentional about planning quality recreational time with your nearest and dearest. In doing so, you’ll deal loneliness a blow.
5. Be fully present during leisure time
Even if you have scheduled in relaxation with your loved ones, allowing the line between your professional and your personal time to become blurred in your head can rob you of the full benefit of being with those significant people in your life. For example, mentally wrestling with the punctuation of a tricky sentence while having a conversation with your partner doesn’t lend itself to meaningful connection. A designated workspace and defined work times may help you to focus on your loved ones during your downtime, but you will still need to intentionally be fully present. Deliberately make the most of moments with your special people, choose not to be distracted and allow these occasions to fill your love tank.
6. Don’t do it alone
To balance out a solitary day of marking changes to an on-screen document, choose someone to share your leisure activities with. For example, if you enjoy walking, perhaps do so with your partner. If there’s an exercise class you’d like to try out, invite a friend along. Even if it’s a routine activity, like cooking or housework, make it fun and build camaraderie while sharing those ordinary tasks.
7. Connect with others with similar interests
If your social circle is feeling a little small, find a way to add a few like-minded people. They don’t have to be language practitioners to fit the bill. Join a sports team, get involved in a hobby club or society, volunteer for a cause, or become part of a church group or faith-based organisation. Add the meeting times to your schedule so that you can intentionally develop these relationships while pursuing an activity you enjoy.
As with most things in life, it’s all about balance. There are those of us who may enjoy our own company for extended periods, but we all need some level of human contact and a sense of belonging. While face-to-face interaction with editing and proofreading colleagues may not always be possible, working from home needn’t sentence us to isolation and loneliness.
I’ll see you at the virtual water cooler!