Loneliness NZ

Working from home and lonely

Nothing makes you wish that you could work from home more than being stuck in a traffic jam, desperately wondering if you will make it to your desk before the boss sees it empty.  And then when you finally make it into your office you can’t get any work done because of constant interruptions with all your beloved colleagues stopping by for a chat. So when the company starts downsizing and offering some employees the opportunity to work from home, it seems a no-brainer that you take it.

So off you go… looking forward to having those extra minutes in bed, not having to pick out a corporate outfit every day…. and being much more productive. And that works well for a month or two, maybe even more. But… you become aware that your world isn’t quite right. Our empathy goes to you, as you might not even recognise what’s happening… you’re losing your motivation, and loneliness and social isolation might be setting in.

So if you are one of the many people who feels lonely as a result of working from home, or you know of someone who feels loneliness from this, then read on. In fact even if you suspect others might be lonely, and they stoically say they aren’t, it’s worth understanding working from home and loneliness better.

Scratching the surface of being lonely

Noticing the silence

....changing from solitude to eerie.

Sensing inner conflict

... you like the perks of being at home but you miss office-life, and office gossip.

Feeling marginalised

…you are not getting to hear of all the other office projects your company is involved in.

Being less creative

... you spend hours at your computer but you can’t get inspired.

Feeling guilty

... if you take breaks, because you didn’t need them in the office.

Working at home gives rise to many challenges with regard to feeling lonely...

… and in addition to these, you undoubtedly identify with many of the same loneliness problems that aren’t related to where you work.

Prevalence of loneliness

If you are working from home, you are not alone. More than 685,000 employees in New Zealand work from home, for on average about 18 hours per week. This peaks in the 45-54 age group, when the limited opportunities at the high-end of the corporate pyramid leaves many creating new opportunities from home. These numbers may significantly increase in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

If you are working from home, either by choice or otherwise, and feel lonely, then we empathise with you. 

Column chart of number of New Zealanders who work at home by age group

Exposing loneliness

Feeling socially isolated occurs when people, like you, are not connected into their communities in a meaningful way.  Society, other people and we ourselves unwittingly contribute to loneliness. To name a few, loneliness resulting from working at home might be exacerbated when:-
  • When you work for yourself or for a total virtual company where your nearest colleague might even be in another time zone.
  • The nature of your work is isolating in itself… you really don’t need to interact with others to produce your work.
  • You naturally are a social person, and you get your energy from others.
  • Your boss doesn’t understand the challenges arising from working from home.
  • People think you are less serious about your work, working from home.
  • Your organisation leaves you to it and does not have video conference or phone in meetings from time to time.

These are very real issues for you;
and some are not quick fixes! So despite these challenges it’s vital you actively find ways to ensure that you – and those around you – are emotionally healthy.

Exhibiting signs of being lonely

Solitude is very important for people to reflect and to come to grips with their situation. Being lonely for short periods is also not necessarily unhealthy. What we are considering is the type of loneliness which is prolonged and might be damaging to an individual’s health and wellbeing. Some people talk about their loneliness; other’s don’t; Some might not recognise that they are actually suffering from loneliness.

When people are already lonely, having people around you that you aren’t able to connect with on a deeper level, might even make your loneliness worse.

Research has shown that when socially isolated people aren’t getting enough regular human contact that can create problems with their family members and people who they do end up talking to.

This manifests behaviour such as:
  • Not bothering to keep up personal hygiene standards… with low motivation and no one to see you, you stop bothering.
  • You don’t leave the house… you believe that doing so will give the impression that you aren’t focused on your work.
  • You don’t take proper breaks… you actually work harder but not necessarily more productively.
  • When you do come into the office you are the person who goes to catch up on all the gossip, disturbing everyone else.
  • Becoming more serious – and possibly tearful – forgetting to laugh and smile.
  • Leaping straight into conversation with your spouse who has the opposite experience…. just needs peace and quiet after the hectic, people-filled day and long commute.

These are just the surface of the ways you might be showing signs of being lonely… and that you could recognise in others.
So where to from here?

Conquering loneliness

We appreciate…

you all have a unique story.

How long you have been lonely;  What you believe causes your particular loneliness; and what you have already tried to alleviate the loneliness.

To get to the heart of your loneliness we would like to get to know you!

Your personality, your eccentricities, and your values are all part of what makes you feel your loneliness more than some others.

Your next step

We appreciate the trust you would place in us to talk openly and frankly – so we promise no judgements – genuine empathy, respect and confidentiality.

Then when we have understood you better, we can help you move forward. Help you form better connections with your spread out communities, with your friends and your families…wherever they are in the world.

If you are ready to take the next step, click the button to get started addressing your loneliness:

People feel lonely for many reasons. To learn more about other working or studying and lonely categories, select one of the coloured boxes below, or scroll down the “I’m feeling lonely” menu.

Loneliness NZ square I'm feeling lonely logo

With our help you can conquer your loneliness by taking better care of your inner self.

And we can conquer loneliness in New Zealand by better understanding and accepting each other.

So when you are ready…click here.

We look forward to hearing your view of the world!

Stats NZ (2013), Survey of Working Life: December 2012 quarter. Download the data.