A blog for the work-at-home professional by a work-at-home professional.

LONELINESS: A Challenge to Overcome

I have been a full-time work-at-home professional for more than three years now and I am speaking from experience when I say that working alone can be very isolating. I had my first work-at-home job as a home-based call center agent. I rented a small room in Pasig, Manila. Since I needed a conducive workplace, I had to stay in a relatively quiet neighborhood. I was prone to depression at that time as I was still recovering from a major heartbreak. I spent most of my waking hours cooped up in that room. I didn't have a normal life because I was asleep during the day and awake at night -- a predicament that most call center agents find themselves in -- so there was very little opportunity to interact with people outside my room. The isolation made my depression worse, and so I had a major depressive episode. I was so depressed that the idea of committing suicide was dancing around my brain. Fortunately, I had the good sense to call my precious friends who then came to my rescue. I had to see a psychiatrist and take anti-depressants and it took quite a while before I recovered completely.

Here are the lessons I have learned from my experience:

Lesson #1: Don't telecommute if you live alone or don't live alone if you telecommute.

I have since moved out from that dismal, four-walled inferno that I once called my room and have returned to Kalibo, my hometown, where I live with my family. I thought living alone would be good idea because I wouldn't be distracted at work. I was wrong. For me, it's easier to deal with distractions than with loneliness and depression. We need people to help us pick ourselves up when we feel down. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster, MySpace and instant messengers are good tools that help you get in touch with people, but trust me, there's no substitute for having face-to-face conversations with people in the flesh.

Lesson #2: Make sure that you're living a well-balanced life.

Telecommuting gives us the freedom to work long hours. We don't have to worry about rush-hour traffic or going home too late (duh!). But we must remember that there is more to life than making oodles of money. We must never forget that we are social beings and we need to be with people every now and then.

Where to find people:
  • Gym -- We need exercise. I do. I've grown significantly heavier since I started working at home. Sitting for long periods at our workstations will cause our waistlines to expand considerably unless we do something about it. Plus, going to the gym gives us the opportunity to meet attractive people (for single people only), or at least feast our eyes on them. ;)
  • Clubs and Organizations -- You may want to do some volunteer work or pursue a hobby. Let's be well-rounded individuals! You may also form an organization with fellow telecommuters in your area.
  • Cafes -- You can even work there if the nature of your job permits you to do so and if it's not too distracting. Take advantage of the WiFi especially if it's free. You don't have to talk to people. Hearing people talking in the background or just seeing them around can help you feel less isolated. In my case, I don't go to my favorite cafe to work. I take a break from work and go there to have a nice chat with my best friend over some cappuccino or latte.
  • Bars -- Loosen up and grab a drink once in a while. Or better yet, buy someone a drink. ;)
Lesson#3: You are more important than your job.

We must not forget that we have needs. We need warmth, appreciation, love and affection. We need to interact with other human beings in order to grow. If we spend most of our waking hours in front of our computers, we would soon find ourselves emotionally starved. If your home-based job requires you to sacrifice your needs, then you might want to do a lot of serious thinking about it.

Loneliness is a challenge that every telecommuter faces, but it can be overcome. We need to have people nearby to make us feel supported and less isolated. Balance is essential. We need to give ourselves time to loosen up, be with our family and friends and meet people. Most of all, we should never neglect ourselves. Remember, there is more to life than work.


  1. These a outstanding tips for the telecommuter. I should know, I've been telecommuting for over ten years and you are right about needing to live with someone. Too much time away from human contact is not healthy. I also suggest taking a daily walk: it gets you outside, some exercise, and away from the office.