We’re all familiar with the benefits of working virtually—the flexibility to work where and when you want, the freedom to choose the best work environment for your needs… In most cases, all you need is a strong WiFi connection, and the world is your oyster.
It’s a far cry from dingy cubicles and awkward co-worker relations of careers past—and you can’t beat the morning commute.
Except, after awhile, you kind of miss those quirky co-workers in their silly little cubicles. At least someone was around for a little casual conversation about this weekend’s big game. Somebody? Anybody?
Extroverts derive their energy from being around other people. This can be a challenge for those of us who identify as extroverts but work virtually—often at home alone for extended periods of time.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to to get your people fix as a virtual worker. You just have to know where to look. Here are our eleven best tips for meeting your extroverted needs within a virtual workplace.
1. The Office: Remix
Just because you’re not going to your company’s office to work, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great work environment. Many cities now offer co-working spaces—facilities where you can rent a desk to work alongside other virtual workers. Think of it like one big, social-yet-productive virtual workers’ party with tons of new people to get to know around the water cooler everyday. Perfect!
2. Your Central Perk
Then again, maybe the expense of renting a desk seems to miss the point of working virtually for you, or maybe you only need an occasional pick-me-up from working around others. In that case, there’s always the free version of the coworking space–your favorite local coffee shop!
If you’re in a larger city, you will probably find other virtual workers clicking away on their laptops right alongside you. Even if you don’t make friends, just the hustle and bustle of the coffee shop can give you a much needed energy boost.
3. Sococo, Of Course!
Not that we’re biased, but Sococo is obviously a fantastic way to feel connected to your team while working. You can see who else is hard at work, get a glimpse into what they’re doing and who they’re meeting with—just like in a real office. Need some face time? Pop into a friend’s office and turn your camera on. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to know that your colleagues are just a click away.
4. Tea for Two
You are a virtual worker! You are King of the Schedule, Emperor of Obligations. You can choose where to work, when, and with whom. This means, there’s none of that dipping out for lunch in an office and coming back an hour and a half later to the raised eyebrows of your coworkers. With a virtual schedule, you can literally plan your life around your much needed social interactions.
So go ahead! Take that long lunch. Meet your Mom for a manicure at 11am. Most virtual workplaces are designed for flexibility—so as long as you’re responsible and get your work done on time, no one will mind your fitting work around your real life.
5. Social Media Breaks
The world is at your fingertips with that fancy thing called the World Wide Web. Use it! Take breaks to tweet, instagram, email, and gab. Join an online community for telecommuters, or based on a personal interest. You can even combine work and pleasure by being joining a LinkedIn group or other networking organization. You’ll get the combined benefit of social interaction and the potential for career advancement.
6. Say It to My Face
When you are having meetings with clients or coworkers, why not do it face to face? Replacing the old fashioned conference call with a video interaction makes a big difference in establishing connections and trust. (And you don’t even have to wear pants!)
7. Make Pretend
If you need a little interaction but don’t want to leave the house, a little background noise goes a long way. Leave the TV or radio on in the background while working to give you some stimulation. Those laugh tracks on sitcoms are especially great at making you feel like the funniest guy at your work party of one.
Or try a podcasts or Ted talk to learn while you work, especially if you’re in the midst of a mindless task. Creating some ambient sound, in whatever form, will give you that boost of energy that your too-quiet home office may be lacking.
8. Use Your Incredible Energy For Good!
Working virtually has given you both a more flexible schedule, and a deep need to get out there and meet people, right? So why not put the two things together in a way that benefits others? Join a charity. Sign up to read books at a nursing home. Serve meals at a local homeless shelter. Plant a garden in your neighborhood.
Volunteering is a spectacular way to serve your extroverted needs by feeling a sense of community, teamwork, and accomplishment.
9. Work It Out!
Another potential social outlet is to join an intramural rec sports league! Dust off those soccer cleats and get out on the field! Do something good for your physical and mental health–and then go out for a drink with friends after.
10. Network and Vacation
Your social media networking might lead you to conferences and networking events in your field. These are not only great opportunities for career advancement, but also a chance to get out of your regular working environment and check out a new destination.
And whereas many employees have to forego these kind of out-of-town networking opportunities because of work to be done “back at the office,” you can take your office with you wherever you go! Check in with your 9-to-5 in between conference sessions, and you can enjoy the Florida sunshine even while clocking into that Minnesota winter back home.
11. Expand Your Network and Shorten Your Bucket List
Feeling a sense of adventure? Pack your bags, your laptop and charger, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Every year, the unique ‘Remote Year’ program takes a handful of remote workers on a year long trip across the world. 12 Countries. 3 Continents. Network. Travel. Make money. Relax on the beach. See the world. Can you say win win win win?
So—you social addicts—there’s absolutely no reason for virtual work to limit your social outlets. In fact, it only expands them! By working from home, you are broadening your horizons and gaining the ability to meet people from across the world that you might not otherwise interact with. Get out there and socialize, party people!