Online Teaching Blog

Best practices, tips & tricks, and career advice—served up fresh

How Online Professors Combat Loneliness

How Online Professors Combat Loneliness

by Dani Babb
March 08, 2016

Loneliness has been studied and examined as it relates to e-worker job effectiveness (Grant, 2013). Specifically, the Grant study found that over-working, lack of recuperation, trust and management style also played a role in psychological health of e-workers. Most online professors work remotely, and are therefore potentially at risk for feeling lonely, lacking time to recuperate and may feel overworked.

In the Make a Living Teaching Online group, I asked 6500 educators how they combat loneliness and feelings of isolation associated from working at home without peer interaction with the promise of posting an article to help others who may suffer from isolation or loneliness working remotely but without ideas or tools to cope. Here are some of the ideas; you can read through the entire thread in the group. (All respondents agreed to have their idea and name attributed; some paraphrased with context!)

  • Lunch with fellow teachers/professors (May Neidert Strehl)
  • Walk with a neighbor/friend in the evening, join a moms group, volunteer once a week (Traci Schneider Cull)
  • Volunteer for a cause close to your heart (Matthew Gilbert)
  • Check social media so you feel you are still ‘in the tribe’
  • Pets! (Liz Musil)
  • Start a local group of online educators and plan outings or brown bag meetings and class (Kay O’Pry Reynolds)
  • Wine meet-ups with other professionals (Keyy Hudson)
  • Me-Days! Time dedicated to relax, treat myself to lunch, and de-stress. (LaConti Shantell Bryant)
  • Build relationships/friendships with other online educators and chat with them as a support/help system (Jere Smith)
  • Time with a spouse! (Gary Giss)
  • Structuring my day to get done more quickly and have time for coffee or a friend (Carla Forlano)
  • Set a specific room for work, and leave the house at least once per day (Jen De Zayas Carmean)
  • Volunteer, join an exercise class, meet a friend for lunch, make an effort to leave the house a few times during the week (Nichole Johnson)
  • Zumba and the gym (Tomecca Williams)
  • Gym (Kelly Nicole)
  • Force yourself to leave the house, stay connected to church, take a couple of seated classes (Michael A. Smith)
  • Build a network of peers who also work from home that you can email/chat with throughout the day. Pets and small children! (Nicole Runyon)
  • Pets, work outside the home, talk with peers online, join a class, learn something new, part time job somewhere that is fun to work (Stacie Williams)
  • Participate in professional organizations (Dawn Blanton Henderson)
  • Find a hobby you can do 3-4 times per week (Antoinette Davis)
  • Take lessons, volunteer, serve the community (Debra Oliver)
  • Get out of the house every day, massage every week, weekly lunch dates, walk with dog or friends daily, gym 3-4 days a week, phone or FaceTime dates with long distance friends, Facebook (Ali Jay)
  • Play groups if you have a child (Holly Sprinkle)
  • Work sitting outside, leave the house at some point during the day for gym, lunch, errand, a walk etc. (Kimberly Bridges)
  • Volunteer (Hilary Johnson-Lutz)
  • Schedule outside fun or face to face commitments (Cheryl Lampshire)
  • Check in with friends who work from home every few days (Freda Blake Bradley)
  • Work from a coffee shop (Nicki Favero Puckett)
  • Connect with other professionals online, take a few minutes for social media accounts, schedule coffee dates once a week with a close friend, take a walk through your neighborhood once or twice a day, be friendly with other parents if you have kids, schedule park playdates and bring your laptop, volunteer for committees at your place of employment, volunteer locally at a food bank, church, homeless shelter etc. (Emily Brienza-Larsen)
  • Join conference call prayer groups (Pamela Grayson)
  • Lync to chat throughout the day (Micheline Guilman)
  • Have lunch out with a friend once a week, join a gym, and go three times a week (Sheila Shanker)

If you work from home, the common threads seem to be

  1. Making time for yourself and friends,
  2. Leaving the house every day,
  3. Find hobbies or classes to join,
  4. Volunteer work/community service, 5. Online chat with friends,
  5. Join professional organizations.

Whatever you do, I personally recommend getting out of your “lounge wear” and leaving the house! One day I will take my own advice!


Grant, C. A., Wallace, L. M., & Spurgeon, P. C. (2013). An exploration of the psychological factors affecting remote e-worker's job effectiveness, well-being and work-life balance. Employee Relations, 35(5), 527-546.