Fighting loneliness in the time of social distancing 🚶
Written by: Hrishikesh Pardeshi, Founder at Flexiple, buildd & Remote Tools.
Last updated: Jan 19, 2023
It's an entirely new reality that we are adapting to right now. I am working full-time from my home office with no option of visiting our co-working space, even for a day or a few hours. Frankly, my movement is limited to one nearby grocery store and maybe a few late night walks. I am sure it's pretty much the same case with you. Social distancing and quarantine have become the norm now.
Byproducts of public health recommendations
There's no doubt that we all are at a global war with COVID-19 at the moment. The public health recommendations of social distancing and self-quarantine are a must in this situation. However, the side-effects of these are isolation and loneliness, which are health problems too. So much so that it may cause a 'social recession' in parallel to a possible economic recession.
The most worrisome part about the situation is that the older people, adults with disabilities or existing health conditions and those already isolated would be the worst sufferers. When we advocate relying on our network of family and friends, we implicitly exclude the most disadvantaged and isolated.
Fighting loneliness in a time of social distancing
In a world where physical interaction isn't possible, your only option is to resort to technology and virtual world solutions. So, we have put together a set of recommendations on how we can fight loneliness on three fronts - personal, team and community. I strongly feel if each one of us is able to work on some or all of these pointers in each area, we can conquer the (hidden and forthcoming) loneliness pandemic.
- Video chat - If you can't interact with people in-person, the next best thing is video chat. Have a video call with your family, friends and/ or teammates regularly. Try doing things on video you do in the physical world otherwise, e.g. a virtual dinner with friends or a virtual pizza party with your teammates. If you like, you can join in a public zoom room like this one too.
- Online communities - There would be plenty of amazing online communities that cater to your niche interest. Find one and use it to engage around what matters to you most. A few examples are jump rope enthusiasts, pet lovers etc.
- Upskilling or honing your passion - It's a great time to pick up a new work-related skill or a hobby or work to improve an existing one. For example, Doist's COO, Allan, took to carpentry to fight depression and find happiness outside work.
- Tools/ Apps - There are some wonderful apps that help you connect with complete strangers or strengthen your relationship with the ones you know. Here are just a few - Cafecito, Cocoon, Monaru.
- Slack channels - We spoke about this in our guide as well. Having slack channels for common interests, appreciating others' work or simply for fun, goes a long way in building engagement and connect.
- Virtual social events - Events like quiz nights or where everyone talks about something interesting that's happened in the week, are fun and great places to bond.
- Tools/ Apps - An app like Donut matches you with a teammate whom you don't interact with usually or a tool like Bonusly helps you publicly reward a teammate to express appreciation.
- A moment of kindness - There are a lot of strangers in the virtual world that you interact with through social media posts, reactions, comments etc. Take a moment each day to drop a line to any one of them. In effect, you may actually fuel a chain of kindness.
- One digital action - There are also acquaintances in your virtual world whom you interact with rarely. Take one action each day either to strengthen an existing relationship like this (get in touch with an old friend) or form a new relationship.
What are your thoughts on this? Are you already doing something to tackle loneliness? I would love to hear your inputs.
If you liked reading this, please show some love to this Twitter thread :)
COVID-19 Remote Work Resources
We have also put together this page listing all remote work related resources particularly useful for those new to WFH. I would love to hear your feedback/ thoughts on this. Also, feel free to share these resources with anyone you think would benefit from it - we need to help as many people as we can.
The Remote Working Show - Sondre Rasch, Co-founder & CEO of SafetyWing
Earlier last week, we had a very interesting chat with Sondre Rasch, Co-founder & CEO of SafetyWing. A serial entrepreneur, with two of his startups being a part of Y-Combinator, he shares his experiences of building a tech startup around providing insurance for digital nomads and remote workers. His thoughts on a new "Internet Country" are very nuanced.
Having worked remotely almost all his life and also with a remote team at SafetyWing, he shares challenges of working remotely and how he solved for them. Also, for startups and companies who have been thrust into remote work suddenly, should listen to his non-negotiables to run a successful remote working team.
If you found this conversation useful, I would really appreciate if you could do a short review on your favourite podcast player (iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc.) - this will greatly help others discover the podcast.
As always, here are our top-picks of remote-first products:
✔️ Back helps organize and automate employee requests and processes
✔️ Wingman helps coach and onboard remote sales teams
✔️ Beamer helps you share updates, news etc. with your users
✔️ Remote Rocket Ships lists 40 fast-growing startups hiring remotely
✔️ Uman.ai enriches search results by combining your team knowledge