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    People has been doing socially isolating activities since the beginning of history. From the shepherd, the firewatch, the farmer to the more modern lighthouse keeper.

    Many traditional societies gave people plenty of time and opportunities to socialize. Something has changed and remote work is not the issue.

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      One difference is that in those traditional societies, you would go home to your family, your village, your religious community, etc.

      Especially for young(ish) remote computer programmer these social structures often don’t exist: they often don’t have their own family, they live “anonymously” in a city, and often aren’t involved in their local religious community.

      The problem I sometimes have is that I will work all day, not talk to anyone (in person), and in the evening have a need for social interaction. This can sometimes be hard because a lot of my friends have regular jobs, families, etc. Also, I’ve been travelling a lot, which, as the post says, can be rather lonely at times (although I’m coping well; better than the author at any rate).

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        This has long been a problem of mine. In particular when I worked at Canonical I was based in the US but a lot of my team was in Europe and when I woke up in the morning I had this immediate anxiety just knowing that most of my team has already been working for some hours. So I never took the time to eat breakfast or collect myself. I would brush my teeth really fast and go sit at my desk. But at what should be the end of the day, I would often keep working because I just didn’t have anywhere in particular to be.

        I’m not a very social person. I’m not good at talking to people I don’t already know (and honestly not that great at talking with people I do know), so I never felt comfortable going to some place like a bar to socialize with people. And I’ve never really been religious so I never got involved in any religious communities.

        So I was always very lonely. And even though I’m married now I still feel pretty lonely. I don’t have many friends, most of my real friends live in other cities and I rarely see or talk to them. It’s just how I’ve been for as long as I can remember and I’m not quite sure how to overcome the loneliness.

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          Going to a bar and talking to people isn’t really something I would do either, but meetup.com and couchsurfing events and hangouts work very well for me. That’s basically how I met friends every time I moved somewhere new. Also remember that social skills are skills: you become better if you practice (this may sound obvious to some, but I didn’t realize this for a very long time).

          So I was always very lonely. And even though I’m married now I still feel pretty lonely. I don’t have many friends, most of my real friends live in other cities and I rarely see or talk to them. It’s just how I’ve been for as long as I can remember and I’m not quite sure how to overcome the loneliness.

          Yeah, that’s how I felt for a very long time too. I mostly coped okay(ish) until I moved to the UK for my girlfriend’s job. We broke up after a year and … I didn’t know anyone in my “new” city besides her. I worked remote and just never made an effort to meet anyone. After a few very miserable months I decided to make an effort and went to some meetup groups. Within weeks I had a friend group I would hang out with regularly. I’ve since moved to 3 different places, and found that every time you really make an effort, it’s possible to make friends (it can be rather time-consuming though, as you really do need to make the effort).

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          One difference is that in those traditional societies, you would go home to your family, your village, your religious community, etc.

          IMO it’s too romanticized. People in remote places had lives so desolate that any degree of urban solitude pales in comparison.

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          firewatch

          I am 100% convinced I’m descended from the firewatchers and the night guards. It doesn’t matter what time I woke up or how tired I am, I cannot fall asleep prior to midnight. I don’t even get my brain completely going until about 7 PM.

          I’ve also worked from home for over a decade now. It’s quite literally been my goal since I was six. I much, much prefer working by myself.

          That being said, I make it a point of socializing. My wife always is ready to leave the party long before I am (which is just one of the many ways she puts up with me).

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            My unscientific (but slightly science-informed) guess is that there is natural variation in sleep cycles so that any given village would have good coverage for group situational awareness throughout the 24 hour cycle.

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              This is an interesting idea!

              Unlike lorddimwit above I can hardly work after 20:00, on the other hand I wake up before 04:00 in the morning and enjoy it. I can easily wake up around midnight as well, given that I got 3 or four hours sleep first, but obviously that is not sustainable for most of us at least in the long run.

              And for what it is worth: I was always sleepy in the evenings, also back when I used to wake up at 07:00 or 08:00 so it was a real breakthrough when I realized that getting up early was easy for me.

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          It’s not like non-remote companies ever acknowledge the mental health challenges of open space offices. ;)

          It’s also not like working in an office means separation is possible. For some positions, it just means you have to go physically go to the office off hours rather than just get to your computer.

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            Most claims in this text are about personal characters and communications rather than remote vs non-remote.

            • Remote doesn’t mean you have to travel or being nomad.
            • Remote means you have freedom to choose where to settle down and spend most of your time.
            • Remote doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from your friends and society.
              • If you have community trouble, it’s more like your personal issue rather than remote.
              • Actually you have more freedom for community. You just don’t have people around you.
              • Workplace is not the only place you can find people to meet up.
            • Office very unlikely to eliminate your loneliness or insomnia.
              • So many people working in office also have same problems. Remote is not the source of it.
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              Yeah, it is hard. I think it’s particularly ill-advised for younger engineers to jump right into remote work. There is a lot to be said for picking up the basics of office/business etiquette, subtle things that are much harder to intuit when you’re fully remote. A couple years in an office (any type of office) will do wonders for your professional sensibilities.

              I also think, when you first start off remote, it helps enormously to designate a space to work in (room in your house, desk in your house, whatever) and go there during normal work hours. Only work in that space, and only go to that space from 8-5 or whatever the expectation is. It’s easy to overwork, it’s easy to underwork.

              Finally, the company matters a lot. Being remote on a team of 85% in-office sucks. Your company has to commit to being not just remote-friendly but remote-first, if you are going to succeed.

              Context: I’ve been fully remote 5+ years now as an engineer, ~3 years of non-remote engineering before that, and I’ve been in the general workforce about 20 years.

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                I agree with almost all of this article. And when I started remote work, it was a challenge to find a balance.

                However, once I found that balance, it spoiled me to ever working in an office setting again. Having control over who I socialise with was a major boon - you’re never going to get along with everyone in the office, so being able to hang out with “your team” instead of an entire building of people can do wonders. Being able to break at 1 PM with virtually no questions asked to go to a doctor’s appointment and just come back and finish up a little later than usual means I don’t have to worry so much about scheduling (and it resulted in a HUGE boost in my health because I stopped avoiding doctor visits).

                Also, I have a sleep disorder, which means I’m awake at 4 AM posting this because I woke up at 2:30 AM, but next month I might be awake at 4 AM posting this because I’m about to go to bed. Good remote companies will work with you on freaky/disordered sleep patterns like mine (especially ones resistant to treatment, like mine) and it lets me contribute my talents and feel like I belong. If I had to work an 8 to 5 every day, I’d be fired every month.

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                  The Oatmeal wrapped these up pretty nicely: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home

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                    I work in a sort of remote position where I go to an office every day but the people I actually work with are in a different town, so I could definitely work from home. But I really need that separation and having other people around to “get you out of your own head”, as the post says. I think I’d rather my next job be “in office” but if I move to another remote job I’ll definitely search for a coworking space or something similar.

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                      I started remote work maybe about 5 years after I began working professionally. I had established some idea of what was expected of me and what I expected of myself before beginning that. I also already had one child and another on the way. Remote work gave me the opportunity to build a life I wanted, rather than something I could only dream of if I had moved to a city and stayed there (or, alternatively, stayed working local at a smaller town).

                      I never had the traveler’s bug. My dad moved us around when I was a kid, and I think that gave me enough of a sense of travel that I never had much interest beyond that when I got older. And now I’m 36 with 3 kids, owning a home in an area I really like for about 5 years. All 3 kids are deeply embedded in the school and local culture. My wife has friends here. My parents moved nearby 3 years ago. I joined a fraternal organization for social interaction and a rugby team for physical exercise.

                      The problems described in this article do not feel like remote gig problems to me. They’re self-created problems of not knowing where to go or what to do with yourself, isolating yourself even further outside of work, and avoiding family (for better or worse) because you’re not tied to a particular area.

                      I am about to go back to an in-office gig and I’m not really very excited about that aspect of it. I do enjoy some social interactions from work, but really I like to just hang out at home and do my job. I get enough social stuff outside of work to keep me happy there. If you’re worried about being judged on what you add to an organization, I will recommend going to a huge corporation. There are tons of people there who do little to nothing all day and still advance.

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                        My biggest problem after 10 months of remote work is staying focused and motivated during the day. Lately I’ve been procrastinating and getting distracted with personal tasks and then working a few hours at night because I feel guilty for not completing my work during the day.

                        I’ve found going to the library or a coffee shop helps. I guess I don’t want people to see me slacking off, so I work. In any case, I’ve been trying to “fix” this lately with limited success.

                        I did struggle with isolation a little bit initially, but making some new friends around my apartment complex helped, and making sure I go outside and get some excercise every day has also helped. I definitely go out more since I started working from home.

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                          I’ve found remote+flexible hours to work really well for this. I am not focused and motivated all day (whether remote or in an office); when I worked 9-5 onsite, that meant spending 2-4 hours a day not really making as much progress as I’d have liked.

                          Now I’m on part time + remote + flexible hours, and it’s awesome - if something disturbs my emotional state (ex: I’m renovating my house at the moment and it’s super stressful), I can just spend a day or two away from the computer and catch the hours up over the following week or two.