Better boundaries when working remotely

You need to set two types of boundaries – those you have with yourself about how you work and those you establish with your boss and colleagues

There are many benefits to working from home but one of the downsides is that it is often harder to turn off. Michelle Gibbings is here to help you flick that switch

A recent report from the Productivity Commission and research from Microsoft affirmed that most of us want the flexibility of being able to work from home. But we also want to manage workload and set boundaries so there’s an optimal balance between work and home life – like many professions, EAs will have found they worked longer hours from their home office during the pandemic.

So, you may be saving on that commute but are you using those saved hours to work more? And remember, switching off from work isn’t as simple as turning off your laptop, leaving your desk or shutting your home office door. There are often expectations that you are constantly ‘on’ and ready to respond at all hours.

If this sounds familiar, here are five tips to help you set boundaries, manage expectations and keep yourself thriving as you work remotely in 2022.

Schedule tomorrow

Before you finish your working day, write down what you want to achieve tomorrow. Outlining your tasks and scheduling your day in advance helps stop you from ruminating about everything you need to do tomorrow. It also means you can start your working day focused, knowing where you want to direct your energy.

Set the end of day habits

Establish a routine that signals to your brain that your working day has finished. It might be getting out of your work clothes, meditating, exercising, switching your phone to silent, listening to a podcast or calling a friend. Habits take time to form so be deliberate about the practice you want to start and set a daily reminder.

Agree on boundaries

You need to set two types of boundaries – those you have with yourself about how you work and those you establish with your boss and colleagues. If you consistently work long into the evening and answer emails late at night, you create a pattern of behaviour for yourself and those around you. Could technology help you switch off? Have your phone automatically change to ‘do not disturb’ and turn off social media push notifications and email alerts at set times. Also, talk to your boss about boundaries and get clear on their remote work expectations – how you will handle calls and emails outside set work hours, for example.

Shake it off

In the iconic words of Taylor Swift, shake it off! One of the best things you can do to leave your work day behind is to exercise. Get the blood pumping and those endorphins zinging through your body.

Find time for you

Plan regular events in your calendar that force you to leave your home desk and not burn the midnight oil. It could be an art class, catching up with a friend or attending a community activity. It won’t just help you switch off, it will also help you maintain balance and connection.

Your career is important, but as the actor Amy Poehler puts it: “Your career won’t take care of you. It won’t call you back or introduce you to its parents. Your career will openly flirt with other people while you are around.” Your career matters, yet it is not all of who you are. Making boundaries will help you to find time for yourself and things that matter to you.

Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert. She has written several books, including her latest ‘Bad Boss – What to do if you work for on, manage one or are one’