From running behind social schedules to losing touch with your friends and loved ones, remote work is the epitome of ultimate loneliness. Here is why.
Loneliness is more than an emotion. It’s a state of solitude that makes one feel unwanted and empty. More often, loneliness can manifest in extreme introversion and social isolation. Whereas it’s not a major call for alarm, loneliness can quickly lead to a poor state of mind and depression. That’s why my friend Mona and I make time to share conversations away from work. Mona works remotely full time whereas I work from the office the whole week. You could say we balance each other’s schedules.
Today, we had planned to watch Vikings Valhalla. Seemingly, the movie must wait because for the umpteenth time this week. I am here carefully listening to Mona rant on and on, about how life is dishing her impossible challenges. She tells me how her ex-boyfriend Brian is flaunting his new girlfriend in a mutual travel group. She shows me the pictures. Truthfully, I’m not mad. The damsel is pretty as they come, looks outgoing, and has legs for days - should I also tell you about the other visible features? The point is, when your friend is ranting about their ex-partner, you should fall into the habit of hating the heavens out of the ex’s new entanglement.
On the objective scale though, a normal human being can only take sadness for too long. I don’t blame Brian for moving on swiftly. Mona has been having sadness attacks way too often. She’s always mad about something. Quarrelling about someone, moving around in pyjamas and unkempt hair, crying about small things, and having weekly check-ins with the resident counsellor. Before this, we used to have weekly nights out, spa dates, picnic days, and dinner outings but then remote work happened.
Depending on how you look at it, Mona could be the stellar image of a perfect remote worker or a glimpse of the failure that has become of remote work. She spends her days holed up on her laptop, rushing between bowls of noodles and taking a meaningful shower. She has lost the work-life balance concept because this no longer exists in her world. While her personal life is currently in shatters, her work life is shining. She has a wall full of accolades such as, ‘employee of the month,' ‘most innovative team member’ and ‘mural master of the season.’
Whereas it looks like my friend Mona is flourishing in her career, she no longer has a social life. She cries over little things, has lost her people skills, and never leaves the house. All these have contributed to making her a lonely woman in her mid-twenties. When I hear people talking about how remote work is the ultimate dream, I wonder if they have an idea of the loneliness they are getting into. Let me break it down for you.
Remote work comes with impossible work schedules... sometimes
Pre-pandemic era, Mona and I envisioned a dream life. In the dream life, we were working remotely to give us the convenience of a holiday anytime, working on the move, and the ability to build memories while making money and building a career on the side.
However, working remotely during the pandemic blurred the work-life balance boundaries. When your boss knows you’re working remotely, they imagine that you have all the time to finish tasks. And so you will be given tasks that have tight turn-around schedules. This means you will be working overtime most days. With time, keeping up with work schedules will become hard, forcing you to lose touch with your social time.
Feeling disconnected from people
There’s a high risk of feeling disconnected from the "world" and people because remote work does not allow you time for social interactions. If you experience social fatigue from interacting with people, you might think that remote work is the best thing that can happen to your life. The colleague who talks your ears off over lunch, the one that compliments your outfit, and that one that steals gooey glances at you, are doing a good job at maintaining your overall well-being.
Human interaction is essential to everyone as it gives you a sense of connection and belonging. This way you maintain a healthy level of happiness thus a low risk of feeling lonely. If you read through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you will notice that job security and human interaction contribute to your overall well-being.
Exposure to sadness
We get it. You have equipped your house with all the modern home appliances and décor to make it your happy place. But have you imagined how sad you will be when you are stuck in the same environment for more than 7 days? Remote work makes you vulnerable to sadness because, in more instances, you’re stuck in the same environment.
Let’s face it, not all of us have people at home to go back to at the end of the day. In fact, many of us live alone. Thus working in a space where you are the only human being with no one in sight to share small talk with, will slowly lead you to sadness making life distasteful. Sadness and loneliness are a recipe for poor mental health.
While remote work is the 21st Century dream that we have all been looking forward to, before you settle on working fully remotely, look at your current situation to understand if you’re equipped to handle the loneliness that comes with it. You might just be jumping from a frying pan to an inferno!