How to Find Real Community When You Work from Home
How to Find Real Community When You Work from Home
Working from home is great, but it can present its own unique set of challenges, not the least of which is how to experience friendship and community outside the structure of a traditional workplace.
Whether you've recently transitioned out of an office job, been working from home for a while, or are planning to start working from home soon, finding community is a challenge you will likely face.
But it's not all bad news!
There are simple ways to find and build real community when you work from home!
MAKE FRIENDS WHERE YOU ALREADY ARE
Are you already involved in other group activities like a book club or entrepreneur mastermind? Perhaps the other people in that group could be good friends and provide the support you're looking for!
Maybe you already go to the gym, the coffee shop, the library, the farmer's market, or the same little cafe on the regular. Why not befriend someone else who frequents those places? If you're both already interested in similar things, you have a built-in connection and a place to start a conversation!
Where are you already interacting with other people that you could turn to for community? Take another look today to see if that just might be the key for you!
GO OTHER PLACES
There's no secret formula for this. Just get outside the house.
The biggest hindrance to building real community when you work from home is the fact that you're not surrounded by people every day.
When you work in an office, you're automatically in a social place. Even if everyone works in their own offices or cubicles, there are other people around with whom you could have a conversation and build a friendship.
The best way to imitate that environment when you work from home is to intentionally go other places and be around people.
Depending on your work schedule, personality, interests, local options, and other commitments, this could look like any number of things:
work from a coffee shop or park or library or coworking space
start or join your own local entrepreneur group
join a sport team
join a Bible study or small group through your church
join a class at the gym
get to know your next-door neighbors
start visiting local small businesses
One of the beautiful parts of having a society so centered around technology is that we're not limited to building relationships with the people who live near us.
To find and build community, you can go online!
When you join online groups for entrepreneurs, you'll find a whole host of people in the same boat as you! And they'll be eager to welcome you with open arms, share tips with you, and encourage you along your journey.
There are groups for every niche, some as broad as entrepreneur groups, some more specific like groups for bloggers or coaches or even just faith-based coaches. Just plug some keywords into the search bar of Facebook, and you'll find a whole slew of them!
Once you're in a group, make the most of it! Post an introductory mini bio with a photo to let the group know who you are and what you do. Comment on other people's posts. Once you've engaged with someone, request to be their friend. Treat it like a fantastic networking opportunity that doesn't even require you to get out of your pajamas!
Making friends and building community takes time, there's no question about that. In today's culture, we all too often want an instant fix.
But if we hope for these relationships to last (and we do, don't we?), then we need to be willing to let them develop in their own time.
It also takes an element of trial and error. Not everyone you meet is going to be your new best friend or want to join your book club or entrepreneur mastermind group. That's okay! The practice you gain from reaching out will pay off with the right people at the right time.
Creating real, lasting, vibrant community requires taking a risk and showing up. Somebody has to go first, and often that's a lonely position to occupy until others reciprocate.
Sometimes people don't respond to friend requests the way you'd hope (in person or online), and sometimes they don't accept invitations.
Consistency and resiliency will take you from having surface-level acquaintances to having deep community as you show up time and time again as your real, whole self.
That doesn't mean you have to bare your entire soul or tell your whole life's story upon meeting someone, but it does mean that you have to be present and continue to invest in the community you're building.
The community that I'm a part of right now has changed so much over the years, but we've been together for four and a half years, and it's been one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I've gotten to learn so much from these dear friends as I've watched them live, work, marry, have children, build friendships, go through transitions, struggle, and share their experiences. We wouldn't have that if we'd given up when only a few people came sporadically and sat in awkward silence when we asked questions they weren't yet comfortable enough to answer. It took time and faithfulness for our group to get there. Yours will, too, if you take the time and energy to properly nourish it.
To grow your community, you'll need these essential components:
That's it! I'm excited for you to find and grow your community! I've witnessed the irreplaceable value of community in my own life, and I want that so badly for you, too!
And if you're looking for a virtual community to join, may I suggest The Joy + Full Living Community?