I love work from home humor. My all-time favorite from The New Yorker is one where the main character winds up on the phone with 911, who asks him what his emergency is. The character, still wearing pajamas and not sure if he actually put together a PowerPoint deck due later that day, can only say, “I . . . uh . . . I work from home.”
While I laugh every time I read this, there’s definitely some morbid truth to the sketch that anyone running a business from their home can relate to. Working from home is a blessing . . . until it’s not. If you haven’t gotten out from behind your website or your front door in a few days, or if you’ve stopped putting on actual clothes in the morning, it’s time to make a change. Your business depends on it.
This is so important, I need to say it again!
The great news is that in today’s workworld, where 70 percent of the workforce works from home at least once per week, there are plenty of options that can get you out of the house and connecting with other people face to face. Just being out in the world, whether at a coworking space or lunch with a friend, helps remind people who you are, what you do, and whom you serve, and can help you make more meaningful connections. Here’s how to get your ass out of the damn house to fuel yourself and your business:
Get Out . . . Literally
Let’s start with options in the physical world that I’ve relied heavily on over the last several years:
- Coworking spaces. These shared workspaces are designed to give remote workers a place to do business and still interact with other people. Nowadays you can even choose a coworking space based on the kinds of people you want to surround yourself with, such as an all-women facility or one that caters to creative types. Another great thing about coworking spaces is that you never know who you’ll meet. Not every single person you shake hands with turn into new business, but just mingling with others is an easy way to build your network—and your net worth. I am a member of a fabulous women’s coworking space in Atlanta. I love going there to work.
- Networking events. Many of us, myself included, feel a certain amount of FOG — Fatigue, Obligation, and Guilt — at networking events when we think we should be home, at the computer, answering emails. But like coworking spaces, events like conferences and cocktail receptions get you out of your own head and in front of new people, helping you make connections that could eventually turn into business. When I’m not getting out there and attending these events once in a while, I know I’m doing a disservice to my business in the long run.
- Lunch with colleagues. If there are several of you working remotely, try to get the group together once in a while for a lunch or simply coffee. This works just as well for two people as it does for ten. Make the time about connecting face to face and sharing thoughts and ideas in a casual environment.
- Outside rituals. Having a regular activity outside the house to look forward to each week is another way to strategize leaving the house. When I lived in California, a friend and I had what we called “walky-talky” dates. This was a time each week where we would meet at the beach, go for a walk, and chat about anything we wanted to, work-related or otherwise. The regular break from the daily grind of calls, emails, and website was always gave me a much-needed energy boost and kept me from getting too lost in my own head. Now that I live in Atlanta, I meet one of my fabulous web-based badass business owner friends for fried chicken biscuits! Not as healthy, but fun! Ha!
Get Out Without Getting Out
Those of us who are more introverted might find the idea of spending eight hours in a coworking space around strangers exhausting. And while it’s important to physically get out of your house once in a while, there still are ways to connect with others without ever leaving your computer.
For example, you might attend a webinar on a topic you’re interested in or that relates to your business. Some webinars nowadays even have build-in Q&A sessions where you can interact with the hosts.
Online forums and networking sites, such as women’s groups on Slack, are also great ways to meet people over the internet. I also belong to an all-women organization called Ellevate, which is nationwide and hosts both live online events and in-person meetings. My Ellevate squad meets online once every week for 30 minutes, and that time period is something I look can look forward to as I go about my tasks each day.
Getting out and meeting others is not only good for your business, it’s good for your soul, not to mention your overall health and productivity. And remember you can start small. You don’t have to sign a six-month lease with a coworking space to start getting out of the house. Make a lunch date. Explore online women’s groups. Consider getting out of your sweatpants and out behind your computer to sow and grow your business.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly you see these actions positively affect your business after even just a little effort.