Do you find the seclusion of working at home changes your personality?

I’m wondering if the lack of human intervention changes us a little bit on the inside. A little bit of seclusion never hurt anyone, but homeworkers deal with something completely different. I found this study that further confirms my suspicions:

”In-person contact stimulates an emotional reaction,” explains Lawrence Honig, a neurologist at Columbia-Presbyterian Eastside, a New York hospital. Bonding hormones are higher when people are face-to-face. And some scientists think face-to-face contact stimulates dopamine, the attention and pleasure neurotransmitter, and serotonin, the neurotransmitter that reduces fear and worry.

It’s hard to interact with people when there’s no one at home!

So my question is this: Have you home workers noticed any changes in your mood, perception, or work styles without as much human contact? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Everyone have a great weekend!

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Yvette May 19, 2008, 11:52 pm

    I worked at home as an artist for 24 years and was happy and creative. Then I entered the work-force. The change from alone to an office environment was extremely difficult to adjust to so I left after 6 years. The past 3 years alone trying to create art have been rather empty. I always have to have a recorded human voice on through audio books or youtube interviews. I am now rejoining the work force.

  • ProfMcCord May 19, 2008, 10:25 pm

    I have been working from home as an Online instructor for about four years and have noticed I have developed a face to face “people” avoidance. It was getting bad a few months ago. I realized I was almost a hermit until I starting making changes. The biggest was getting involved in OUTSIDE activities. I try to eat lunch out three times a week along with going to my younger kids school ( I have a few young ones) and eating with them.

    Great topic and I love the tips I have recieved.

  • Yvette May 19, 2008, 7:52 pm

    I worked at home as an artist for 24 years and was happy and creative. Then I entered the work-force. The change from alone to an office environment was extremely difficult to adjust to so I left after 6 years. The past 3 years alone trying to create art have been rather empty. I always have to have a recorded human voice on through audio books or youtube interviews. I am now rejoining the work force.

  • ProfMcCord May 19, 2008, 6:25 pm

    I have been working from home as an Online instructor for about four years and have noticed I have developed a face to face “people” avoidance. It was getting bad a few months ago. I realized I was almost a hermit until I starting making changes. The biggest was getting involved in OUTSIDE activities. I try to eat lunch out three times a week along with going to my younger kids school ( I have a few young ones) and eating with them.

    Great topic and I love the tips I have recieved.

  • Andre May 19, 2008, 7:54 am

    Definitely. It's easier to get bored and get derailed when you work at home (for me at least). Things tend to become less strict and seem less urgent.

    I tend to be up and down on my work schedule… sometimes I sleep too late and it competeley messes up my schedule the next day. It's easier to just “take it easy” since you don't have a boss that gets on you when you slack off.

    I get lazier more often here at home than I used to at my previous jobs. I also sometimes get depressed more easily; I miss the social aspect of working at an office and goofing around with officemates after work. But of course, there are tradeoffs as with everything…

    If you want to be consistently productive, you have to really impose a work routine that you follow as religiously as you would if you were working at somebody else's company. Some may argue that that sort of goes against the perks of working at home or freelancing, but it's necessary to have a semblance of structure, if you will, to be consistently productive.

  • Ann May 19, 2008, 1:18 am

    I don't know that my personality has changed, but I definitely feel happier when working in face-to-face collaboration. I have the option to work at my employer's space, but it feels so inefficient to pack up my computer, lunch, etc. every day when I can just go sit at my desk.

    I didn't read the comments closely, but it looked as if most folks were feeling isolated and missing colleagues. Interesting, since working from home seems to be something of the holy grail.

  • LynnOC May 18, 2008, 3:26 pm

    I am going through something of what you describe, or at least something I don't like. I am a professor of clinical psychology, a researcher, and clinician. I moved my office (both academic and clinical office) home a few years ago. I teach a seminar once a week, and see a few clients almost every day, in my home office. I most miss the interactions with the staff, who are all friends, from my academic office. I think my productivity is lagging far behind, as I try to get some kind of feeling of community by reading blogs written by other knowledge workers, working from home. I end up reading about doing, rather than doing. I think some of this is searching for companionship, and it is the product of a lower dopamine setting. When my husband comes home in the late afternoon, he is looking for a non-social setting, and I am usually finally doing something productive, so that is not the time for interactions. I think the home office –despite the interactions I have regularly with clients and students–is not working optimally for me. Although the idea of again moving, and working out of two out of the house offices is not appealing. When I was in that situation I found it so inconvenient not to have my work in one place. Maybe I am a complainer. However I think i have not yet found a way to make my current situation fit my needs, and that if I can analyze the problems more objectively, I may be able to resolve them.

  • Amy May 18, 2008, 12:38 pm

    This makes so much sense! I have noticed myself getting more extroverted every year, and I wonder if it's more of a reaction to this 'bonding' biological effect? It really makes you think..

  • Andre Kibbe May 17, 2008, 3:54 pm

    My mood does tend to flatten out after the fourth or fifth hour without some kind of intervention. I have the option of walking to a nearby cafe, but even a short round trip can break the flow of work more than I'm willing to accept.

    In most cases, the virtual water cooler is enough to keep my eyes from glazing over. Things like commenting here, messaging someone or picking up the phone are all it usually takes to recharge the batteries, even if the contact isn't as complete as facetime.

  • mikekey May 17, 2008, 1:31 pm

    I'd have to agree on the surface having worked from home pretty much exclusively for about 4 years now. I am a software developer so I do spend a lot of time at the keyboard, headphones on, and without any human interaction. I noticed myself becoming more nervous when I did go into the office, less willing to engage with people in general. Some of this was simply being an introvert, but being at home alone definitely made it worse.

    Here are some tips I used to resolve these feelings for myself. These work wonders for me.

    1. Take a 10 minute break every hour. And when you take that break, go outside. Sit in the sun. Say hi to a neighbor. Maybe even walk around the block. Do this every hour without fail.

    2. At least 2-3 times a week leave the house for lunch. Many of us at home find it easier to work in front of the computer. Don't fall into this trap. This doesn't mean spending money necessarily, take a lunch to the park or eat at a coffee shop. You are not too busy to take some time for lunch, if you are you might think about reassessing priorities.

    3. When you get that irritable feeling of cabin fever, call someone or talk to someone in the neighborhood for a few minutes. I call co-workers and discuss ideas even if I don't need to.

    4. Take a class. Yoga is mine. I go once a week and look forward to it as I know I can talk with people and interact.

    The best part of all of these tips for me is the fact that they don't directly involve work. I feel much better in my life knowing that work is not the centerpiece of my existence and that I can work from home without needing to use work as my only social outlet.

  • Kristen May 17, 2008, 10:10 am

    Here's an interesting compromise… http://www.anywired.com/behind-the-scenes-in-a-

  • Kristen May 17, 2008, 9:41 am

    Interesting post, Glen! I went from teaching high school for fifteen years, surrounded by 150 adolescents and a large staff to working from home (my husband works from home, too) and I have definitely felt a change, but in a positive way. Since I am an introvert, my battery would be drained at the end of each school day, even though I loved my students. Now I always feel charged and I have so much more to give to my friends and family.
    My introverted nature is much happier now but I do miss my students. So, I am going to start teaching online. I wonder if I will be able to connect as well to my online students? We'll see…
    It would be interesting to see if the study took into account personality types?

  • Chris Perilli May 17, 2008, 8:38 am

    I have to agree with this sooo much. I am a designer and motiongrapher, and usually its me and my dog. (thank god for the dog and a plant) My Fiance works a full time, so I feel what your saying completely. At times I think i morph into a complete antisocial character.

  • Jim J May 16, 2008, 7:52 pm

    I left corporate life 11 years ago after 25 years. All of that was in an office setting, usually a corporate office of a Fortune 250 firm. I left to consult on my own (organization and strategy) and spent 4 of the last 11 years as a stock/futures trader. All very solitary unless I actually went to a client's site (3-4 of 20 work days per month). I am by nature an introvert but have learned to be less so over time.
    I found I enjoyed and appreciated human contact more than when I had to deal with it 8-5. It seems an extrovert may have the opposite reaction. A part-time collegial relationship also suits me style.

  • David May 16, 2008, 5:48 pm

    After working long days hunched over my keyboard alone, I definitely start to feel moody and irritable. Even though sometimes I'm networking with and e-mailing real people, I have to agree that I start missing the face-to-face quality of being in the same room with a human.

    Thankfully my family is at home most of the day and I get that contact, but sometimes I still need to get outside and meet with other humans in a different environment.

    In fact, I had some coffee time with a marketing pro on Tuesday. We could talked over the phone or through e-mail, but I purposefully set a meeting over coffee so I could feel human that day. It worked.

  • wickedblog May 16, 2008, 5:43 pm

    This must depend on HOW the working-at-a-home-office is set up. For me (working from my office since 1999 and running my own business from there since 2000), it's not a problem.

    I spend quite a bit of my time on the phone with clients and have one “onsite” client that I visit physically once a month. I don't find myself feeling lonely or isolated at all. Of course, having three kids at home may impact that.

    There are days when I think if I have any more “interaction” with people (*by phone or im or twitter*), I'll scream.

    Most days, it's a good balance and I do feel relatively well-balanced with the home office. I'd never be able to go back to the communal office where the interruptions are constant and projects are bumped for other projects on a regular basis. I like determining the project priorities for my client work and blocking off time to get them completed.

    I like being in control of my own workday. I like working at home… most days.

  • Jared Goralnick May 16, 2008, 5:42 pm

    I can't a while since I've worked full time at an office. But I think I'd be much better off if my interactions were more in-person than online–I think seeing the same people every day can be grounding in a way that an online community really doesn't offer. For instance, it just makes me feel great to work together with my coworkers, and I think there'd be more of that feeling if there were more of their presence. Then again it's nice that they don't get in the way…

    And in more direct answer to your question, I think my moods are more prone to shift and my focus more likely to wonder by having fewer people around in-person. Social media communities can be frustrating or much like the ole high school popularity contest. Real people who you work with and get real stuff done with is a much better feeling. Still, I love the freedom…