Angharad has found a way to combat the loneliness of home working in online networking events. “[It] can be really lonely,” she says. “Having a group of virtual colleagues to cheer you on and cheer you up at the times when you most need it, I think is a complete game changer”.
Angharad started The Flex Network – an online business network for freelancers, flexible workers, and ethical entrepreneurs – in 2018 as a way to combat the isolation that comes with flexible and solo working.
She notes that a lot of the time on social media, people tend to hail freelancing as the ideal work style, but it’s rare that they’ll share the struggles that come along with it, at least on a public level. The positive, she says, is the fact that there are loads of Facebook groups and online networking events where people can get together in a more private setting to make connections with people in the same boat as then. “You don’t have to face it alone anymore,” she says.
“I started The Flex Network because I was working for a company having just had a baby and I was finding it incredibly difficult to maintain that lifestyle, and I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it,” Angharad tells PC Guide. “I just thought, I can’t be the only person facing this…So I wanted to find people, essentially.
“Then I went to a networking event and I came away full of energy…and…super energized, and I just realized that’s what I want to do – I want to bring people together, I want to make them feel positive and combat this isolation that we’re all feeling”.
The Flex Network has definitely seen a rise in interest from members over the course of the pandemic, showing just how important it is to find a network of like-minded people in the same situation as yourself, especially now. Angharad’s biggest piece for meeting new people online of advice is to “give more than you get,” because, “if you’re thinking about what you can offer and helping people and putting out positive energy, then I feel it always comes back because people…want to help you in return [and] you always find the nicest people that way”.
But, crucially, she advises that anyone feeling lonely should talk to somebody about it – anybody – because it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like you’re the only one going through these feelings of loneliness in the moment. “It’s important to process feelings of loneliness,” she says. “Just being kind to yourself is really important”.