Many employees yearn to escape office politics and water-cooler gossip and can’t imagine ever missing the constant chatter of the workplace. The reality is that some home-based workers do miss the day-to-day social interaction of the workplace when they move to a home office setting. Maintaining a sense of connection to the outside world is an important, intentional process for at-home workers. Here are some ways those who work from home can continue to enjoy a sense community:

Join Online Forums

There are online forums these days for nearly every interest and occupation. Professional forums are excellent resources for technical questions and work-related conversations. To find the best fit visit several forums and read through past posts. Hobby-based forums and those focused on personal interests, roles, and activities also offer opportunities for home-based workers to interact with others on coffee and lunch breaks. Just be sure to practice good online time management skills so the social interaction does not bleed over into work hours.

Participate in Social NetworkingWhen Working at Home

Home-based workers often use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook as part of a business promotion program, but these sites are still primarily designed for people to meet and interact on a personal level. Whether sharing photos, chatting, or instant-messaging, social networking sites offer many ways for those working from home to connect with old friends and form new relationships. Again, online time management is essential for keeping social networking activities confined to break periods.

Attend Professional Networking Events

As the number of people working from home grows, professional networking functions also increase in prevalence. These events are perfect for home-based workers because everyone who attends hopes to connect with others and exchange contact information. Some cities have large monthly gatherings hosted by a local Chamber of Commerce, but most often these events are organized by smaller groups with shared professional interests such as a group of natural healers or writers. These events can often be located by checking the online events calendar in the local newspaper.

Set up Lunch and Coffee Dates Away from the Home Office

It’s natural for on-site co-workers to grab a spontaneous bite together, but at-home workers must be more intentional about lunch dates. Be proactive about staying in touch with others by scheduling coffee or lunch away from the house once or twice a week.

Volunteer After Work-at-Home Hours

Some home-based workers can’t leave their homes during the day because of transportation issues, childcare needs, or heavy workloads. In these cases, volunteering for a worthy cause after hours or on a weekend is an excellent way to avoid isolation. To gain the greatest social benefit, seek out volunteer opportunities that involve working closely with others.

Working at home is often done in isolation, but the home-based worker needn’t feel disconnected. Engage in healthy social interaction when working at home by joining online forums, participating in social networking, attending professional networking events, volunteering, and making coffee and lunch dates. By being intentional about connecting with others, at-home workers can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the home office environment while maintaining a healthy sense of social connection.