Whether you’re at the office from 9–5 or you’ve embraced a more unconventional work path, it’s critical to take deliberate steps to balance your digital work life with your respective social one.
Data from the US Consensus Bureau shows that 3.7 million Americans work from the comfort of their home office at least 50% of the time. In the last 5 years, work from home options increased by 40%. More prevalently, employers offering flexibility through telecommuting options have saved over $44 billion a year combined.
While decentralization will continue to be a more sustainable and effective option for employers and employees alike, individuals who opt to pursue the route of telecommuting must prepare for the barriers of entry and potential challenges.
One such challenge sited most frequently is isolation. The first State of Remote Work survey Data of 2018 reports indicates that 21% of employees grapple with not only communication and collaboration, but also problems of loneliness.
And though, I’ve had my fair share of feeling lonely even in the office surrounded by 100+ people, it’s different when you’re sitting at home really alone. The feeling can be grueling, and we’ve all felt it at one point or another. According to researched published by UCLA, this problem affects more than half of the American population, it is an issue that will remain dominate in our society with the rise in use of technology.
To help spark ideas to mitigate these effects, I’ve put together a list of tools and deliberate practices that I’ve found personal success with, both on and offline to build relationships that go beyond the surface. I believe by making a conscious effort to test out one or more of these options, you can begin to create meaningful connections in the digital workplace and in your own personal life.
5 Ways to Create Relationships Offline with People In Your Local Community
1. Find a Co-working Space Near You
Use sites like Coworker to filter by location, reviews and membership options to find your perfect space. Many offices provide a free day pass or in some cases a free week so that you can test out the space and ensure it’s the right fit for you.
Deskbookers has an aggregated list of the top 150 spaces around the world. Use the ⌘command and ‘F’ key to see if your city or country had an exceptional space that made the list.
Additionally if you’re looking for a place to create camaraderie and unity and even join events, Wework is a great option. The valued global community of entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators will make you feel right at home.
2. Become a Tourist in Your Own City
Who says the only time you can explore is when you’re living in a new city or nomad-ing in a foreign country?
Using platforms like Yelp, Foursquare and the more globally renowned TripAdvisor can be an effective way to search for coffee shops and aesthetically appealing libraries to change your daily environment and give yourself an opportunity to interact with new faces. Important things to search for are terms like “free wifi”, “study” and don’t forget, “outlets”.
3. Join Meetups Based on Personal Interests
In primary school, you’re limited to befriending individuals within a few yards of where you study, in the office space, your community can be just as limited.
Meetups provide you with a way to explore and discover groups who can broaden your horizons or join activities you wouldn’t otherwise try alone.
I like to join hiking and board game meetups as they allow you to interact with people in different ways, versus just plain networking which does not encourage development of deep relationships during the event.
4. Enroll in Remote Working Conferences
Conferences can be a powerful form of networking. Remote workers are the best candidates for long conferences because your work doesn’t have to be put on hold.
Homebase Global is running a conference this November in Barcelona, a great prospect for fun while gaining personal growth and learning to optimize productivity.
If you’re running a remote team, the June 2019 Conference by Running Remote in Bali could be for you, providing you with actionable strategies and tactics to use to scale the team.
On the other hand, if you’re a location independent professional the Nomad Summit in January 2019 will bring you together with like minded individuals and deliver powerful inspiration.
5. Calendar Coffee & Lunch Dates with your New Network
After effectively making new connections, it’s all about continuing to cultivate the relationships you’ve built with your newfound friends. As a remote worker your personal calendar might be a bit sporadic, so be sure to schedule time in advance with the people you’ve met as a way of keeping in touch and catching up.
5 Ways to Create Meaningful Relationships Online
1. Join Forums and Subreddits to Match Your Interests
As social media and online chatting become common practice, more and more individuals create a virtual presence. In this way, it can become difficult to create meaningful relationships because it’s primarily based on talking at someone rather than speaking to them.
Forums like Reddit, a discussion forum split into different topics, and Quora a feed of answers to questions organized by interests, can offer ways to join communities based on your interests. Think of these forums like a club you joined in high school, where the community of people involved shared some of your common interests. These types of communities are built on conversation and feedback, so the discussion boards are filled with people who want to collaborate and share information in an impactful, positive manner rather than tear one another down.
Some subreddits I subscribe to are r/digitalnomad, r/entrepreneur, and r/boardgames. To build better relationships, I find that responding to comments with Loom videos is an excellent way to communicate more interactively.
It allows the person receiving the message to see your body language and facial expressions through the recordings, so there aren’t so many miscommunications — especially when it comes to tone.
I have connected with many people with a “cold video” using Loom. My reply rates are 2x – 3x compared to just a cold email or DM. People are also impressed that you took time to record a custom video message for them.
The whole process just makes you more human and not just a collection of words.
Here is a an example of a Loom video I wrote in response to someone on Reddit.
2. Join Facebook Groups based on your interest, career and location
A wonderful way to connect with individuals is through networking services that allow real time interaction. One of the great benefits of Facebook is your ability to join private groups that are based on your location, job description, industry or just personal interests.
The best way is to get involved with these groups is to become an admin or mod so you have the opportunity to become exposed to more people. As being a passive member gives limited access to other people in the network and isn’t likely to force you to be committed in building stronger relationships with people in the community.
Some great places to start are groups for international remote workers and digital nomads including Remote Work and Jobs for Digital Nomads, helping you to assimilate into the world of decentralized work. Another great organization is Remote Mission, for workers who long to use their skills for the greater good.
Organizations like these are great step in meeting like-minded people and creating relationships based on something more than the vicinity to your cubical.
3. Mingle in Social Community Apps & Organizations
There are plenty of communities online that also offer in person annual meetups. Organizations like The Remote Workers Community a group of over 15,000 professionals from all over the world, in various professions who are there to connect, support and offer educational resources to one another to thrive in their nomadic lifestyle.
Additionally channels like the digital nomad chat on telegram can be a great source for networking with other workers in similar arenas, in a space that’s much smaller than Facebook’s 2 billion users.
4. Look for Discord or Slack Chat Communities
Slack communities are centered around common interests, and topics. You can join slack communities to enhance your skill sets, to learn from experts in your field and to make connections with individuals who share your same affinities.
Ometrics provides a detailed list of slack communities you can benefit from based on your field and career pursuits. Communities that revolve around topics ranging from SEO to Product Development. And of course there are chats for more lighthearted discussions pertaining to Star Wars and Street Workouts. Take your pick, you’ll find a community to support any of your interests. Nomad List also has a great slack community to chat and connect with others.
5. Participate in Non-Profit Open Source Projects
Finally a great way to connect is to contribute your skill set and time to to collaborate with others for a good cause online.
This type of collaboration is purposeful and authentic, knowing that the team, individual or group you’re working with shares the same enthusiasm for solving this problem, creates a deeper, more meaningful relationship. In this fashion, you’re more likely to have higher quality social conversations.
Here are some places to find online volunteer opportunities: