Like many of you in Healthcare IT consulting, I work from home. Overall I do enjoy it; however in recent months I’ve become quite lonely and realize there has been a dramatic decrease in the amount of human interaction I have on a daily basis. Over the past year I spent time taking care of a family member and my husband has now gone back to work leaving me truly home alone for the first time in about a year. The fall out has been a drag!
I have noticed a significant trend in Epic-based consulting in which more projects, especially build and support work, are being accomplished remotely. Not only does this keep would-be travelers happy at home, but significantly decreases expenses for their clients. In the increasingly competitive market for Epic contractors adding a remote work element, I believe, could help hospitals find and engage top talent by effectively sweetening the deal. As a counter-point, I would forewarn those that are working in this model to watch out for loneliness and perhaps try and head it off early; as well as find some tips for being effective at home here.
So I’ve been lonely recently, what to do? What I have found that worked best for me (and I know this is going to sound crazy) is getting a pet. My husband and I recently adopted a cat and she’s the cutest (see the above photo; am I right?!)! For me, having another living thing in the house has helped tremendously. Yes, I sound like the crazy cat lady that converses with her cat, but she forces me to take breaks to play with her or make sure she’s staying out of trouble. I get lunch; she gets a treat and so on. It’s nice to have something else around to make some noise.
My friend Gwen Darling has a darling little dog, Sophie, who keeps her company and gets locked out of the office during important phone calls. Her husband also swings by for lunch a few times a week which would break up the day and add a face to face element. Yes, as virtual workers we spend lots of time on the phone; however there is an extra little something to be found in speaking to a person across the table from you. This is why companies interview candidates in person after all!
Although I tend to stay away from the TV if possible, one of my colleagues keeps a TV very low in her office to provide some background noise during the quiet of the day and I know other folks that listen to Pandora or stream NPR.
Here is a hilarious blog called Pajama Paycheque and they advocate getting out of the house for lunch with friends or some activity with your children if you have them. They also mention the ever popular solution of setting yourself up to work at a café. I can certainly see the value in this; however for someone like me that interviews candidates all day, I prefer to be in my home office where I can control the volume of my surroundings.
Whatever method you choose, just make sure you stay sane in your home office because working in your jammies really is the best.