April Malone does a solo episode where she talks about some of the ways that she has combatted the social isolation that can come with working from home. She shares some of the ways that she's been able to make new friends, even while working from home for 13 years through different stages of life, as a single, newly married, and as a mom with young children. When April first started working from home in 2008, she had just moved out of state and was living from home. In order to get out of the house, she started taking a pottery class nearby. She didn't find any long-lasting friendships there, but the act of showing up week after week with the same people gave her a reason to get out of the house and an opportunity for conversation, and it was a good start. She ended up finding a community of people through a local church that was pretty socially active, with some planned events through the church and then several other things that she joined or started. She hosted a movie night and monthly dinner parties, and people started to come more and more consistently. When she moved out of state once again, she had a new baby and either started or joined a few groups with local moms or families in the area. In a third out-of-state move, with the older kids, she had kids in school and started meeting the parents of other kids in the school.
In this episode, April shares that she also sometimes feels awkward when talking with people for the first time, but sometimes it takes someone with a willingness to break the ice and start a conversation. Sometimes, these conversations will blossom into a friendship, but not always. It usually takes time to really know people, but if you're new to an area, there are often other new people who are looking for friends; and tapping the locals for great tips for the best places to eat and hike and spend time is a good conversation starter. April feels that one of the best ways to stay connected while working from home is to join a group of some sort surrounding a hobby or interest and attend regular weekly or monthly meetings. This could be a Meetup group, Toastmasters, a group for singles, a knitting club, a book club, a sports team, or an online social group. It doesn't have to be work-related or coordinated with coworkers, though if someone feels that it would be beneficial to do something social with coworkers, they can always be the person to start something. The key is being consistent and keeping an eye out for those who look like they might be open for some friendly conversation. Facebook groups are also a great resource for people who work from home, especially if the group has in-person components as well as the ongoing connection online. If you need more ideas about how to find more social connections in your current situation, feel free to reach out to April for a conversation to brainstorm some ideas.
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