I love being alone. I have a small dose of social anxiety and a high dose of introversion, so I’m 100% a homebody. Remote work and I are a match made in heaven. But guess what? Despite my voluntary reclusiveness, my most effective block-buster is to go into public and talk to a stranger. And my creativity and productivity always thrive after I get back from a retreat or conference. Why? Because I’m a human being. Even though I may be the president of the Introverts Club, I still rely on collaboration and communication for survival. (Lest I be judged for this proposal being “controversial,” let’s remember that Aristotle was discussing that “man is by nature a social animal” in the 4th century BC, so it is by no means a modern revelation.)
In the remote work world, we talk about isolation as a remote work killer, but in reality, isolation is only dangerous in large doses. The level of autonomy that we enjoy as remote workers can incubate unprecedented focus and efficiency. However, when we cut ourselves off from collaboration, small talk, even social conflict, we lose our humanity and put ourselves at risk for professional, emotional, and psychological burnout.
It’s important to remember that the premise of remote work is not to eliminate in-person interaction from the business world. It’s to segregate time and tasks into what needs to be done collectively versus what can be done independently, or what needs to be done in person versus what can be done virtually. This practice allows remote workers to maximize their efficiency and productivity during each phase. As much as remote locations and flexible schedules have a place in the future of work, so does human interaction.
So, fellow laptop lifestylers, get out every once in a while. Go attend an event, hang out at a coffee shop without your devices (gasp!), or adopt a group-based hobby. Swinging your social pendulum a little farther to the party animal side will probably make the other, more solitary, end of the arc all the more productive.