Loneliness affects almost half of the UK’s home-working professionals, a new study has found, however the survey also finds that loneliness does lessen year on year.
The survey, commissioned by AXA, found that eighty three percent of people who start a home business do it because they want to set their own working hours, gain freedom from co-workers and bosses and find peace and quiet away from the office.
A year in, after working from home, people can start to feel that they’ve had too much of a good thing: loneliness, professional isolation and punishing hours often become the common flip sides.
Forty eight per cent of homeworkers said in the poll that they feel lonely sometimes – and it was found to be a daily struggle for one in three. The most common reason was found to be not too many hours alone, but not being able to talk about their business with someone who understands it.
Only 14 percent said that they could discuss business worries with friends and family, and two thirds said that they missed the sympathetic ear of a colleague. Unsociable hours, meanwhile, deepen the sense of isolation and sixty two percent of homeworkers said that they worked into the night for their clients, and one in three said that their hours were excessive.
However the study also found that the longer you work from home, the happier you become, with levels of loneliness decreasing over time. The four key ways to be a happy home worker were found to be:
- Create social moments. Getting out for lunch was voted the best mood booster: banter with local shopkeepers help one in five, and one in ten go out just to chat to strangers. Regular lunches or drinks with other homeworkers emerged as the best way to feel professionally connected.
- Work office hours on your ‘on’ days. People who start work before 6am or regularly work into the evenings reported the highest rates of loneliness. The least lonely, meanwhile, overwhelmingly work office hours.
- Exercise your right to skive. Sledging with neighbours, open top car rides on a sunny day, carol singing and even skydiving — the happiest homeworkers do exercise their right to ‘skive off’ occasionally. The business often benefits too: ‘I met friends in Soho and had a drink instead! Came back with some great ideas though – so very glad I did it!’
- And some unexpected tips. Working in the living room, with the radio on with the company of dog or cat was named the happiest scenario. In fact, getting a pet was named the best way to beat loneliness by a quarter of homeworkers. Least happy are those who work at the kitchen table, wear pyjamas or have the TV on.