Considering that I am writing this article while wearing my (professional) pajamas, I would offer a liberal dress code as one of the may, many advantages that comes with working from home (or WFH). Others include a 30-second commute every morning, flexibility in terms of grocery shopping, DMV visits, or secret trysts with your regular barista, and the opportunity to juggle multiple careers. There’s only one downside (besides possible weight gain from eating ice cream in bed while reading emails): It can a bit lonely.
Even though you’re probably used to tales of evil bosses and cunning coworkers, what office people don’t tend to talk about is how revitalizing it can be to bounce ideas off of a colleague or discuss Netflix shows in the middle of the day (or if you work at Good&Co, actually study them!). As anyone who works from home knows, dogs make terrible conversation partners, and it’s easy to end up being paralyzed by loneliness even as you take conference calls from your bubble bath. That’s why I’ve put together the top four ways that I meet people even though I work from home:
1. Spend your afternoon in a coffee shop
Coffee shops are the best free coworking space ever. For $2 (ok, $6 if you’re getting Chemex), you can sit next to a budding screenwriter finalizing a spec script, or an entrepreneur drafting a mission statement.
While working in coffee shops, I have been asked by strangers to proofread important emails, choose a logo, provide feedback on a website, and countless other weird and interesting favors. In return, I have also asked people to look over my work and bounce ideas around when I’m stuck. Need a conversation starter? Ask someone to watch your bag while using the restroom and then strike up a conversation when you return.
2. Use networking app Shapr
Shapr is a completely free networking app that introduces nearby professionals with common interests. I try to set up 2-3 new Shapr coffees a week to break up the afternoon. It’s insanely energizing to meet people from cool companies around the city and learn more about their career paths and hobbies outside of work. I have a few close friends I have found on the app including a marketing manager who helped me score tickets for a Sarah Jessica Parker talk (yes, her shoes were swoon-worthy).
3. Crash a coworking space
Coworking spaces are all about the free beer. There are tons of cool mixers, startup talks, and film screenings that happen regularly in the evenings and you can usually find a list of events online. For many coworking spaces you can also receive an email newsletter without becoming a member. If you can’t afford a desk (or would rather spend that money on a plane ticket to somewhere with a beach), try to crash a few events instead. You may even score free pizza.
4. Volunteer during lunch or after work
Volunteering has several feel-good benefits but one of the best is meeting likeminded people. If you pick a charity that interests you personally, you will work with other people who share your passion. Use a site like VolunteerMatch.com to find a cause that excites you.
Are you a WFH champion? Share your secrets to meeting people with us in the comments below!