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Now that we have all experienced working from home and some of us are still working remotely it is important to acknowledge the crucial importance of setting up boundaries for a more productive day at the “new office”.

Companies have realised that employees can actually be very efficient working away from the office. There is no need to monitor and micromanage staff members. We have proven that we are reliable and trustworthy. We care for what we do and want to do a good job no matter where it's done from.

In fact, many companies are keeping their employees working from home for a longer period of time, especially now as we are still in a delicate situation with risk of the COVID-19 still spreading.

Teams are now more productive by working in an environment that caters to a more flexible and unique preference. That is the case of working from home, but in the coming months (years?)it could be in a co-working space, or at a coffee shop.

We currently don’t waste time getting ready for work and save time by not commuting. Depending on the cases, you can sometimes gain an average of two hours a day!

The key benefit of working from home is to have a better work-life balance. That’s what I personally enjoy and want for myself and what I want for the rest of the team I work with. In order to achieve this balance, and to be as productive as possible, it’s important to learn how to set boundaries.

Here are some ideas …

SET HOME BOUNDARIES

If you don’t separate home and work, these tend to blend together and it feels like we are always working.

I don’t actually have an office at home. I work from my dining room table or from my desk in my bedroom. Changing environments every now and then is helpful and also forces me to take breaks. It is good to take a tea break or do something to stretch the legs every couple of hours of continuous work.

Photo by Manki Kim

I usually prepare myself a cup of coffee or tea, check my phone for any urgent messages, go to the balcony and take a few deep breaths. It only takes 5 minutes but it gives me the energy I need to continue working.

If you want a COVID version of musical chairs, consider changing your work location at the end of every playlist or after your favorite industry podcast.

SET TIME BOUNDARIES

The most important thing is to set boundaries on when to communicate with other colleagues in the company and with clients. It is essential to set expectations so everybody is on the same page and knows what's required from them individually.

You may have an established number of hours you work a day, or perhaps you are given more flexibility as long as the work is getting done. In general, it no longer matters if you’re executing a strict 9am to 6pm schedule or working the hours match your lifestyle.

It might be that you get up early to do a few hours of work and then take most of the middle of the day to do the things you enjoy doing or spend time with family, and work a bit more again in the evening. If you have that flexibility and it works for you and the company, take advantage.

Work from home
Photo by Charles Deluvio / Unsplash

Not all businesses will be able to be that flexible with their employees though for a variety of reasons. If that's you, that's okay. But when work is over try not to answer emails or text messages or take phone calls. Your mind will be grateful that you've set this boundary.

SET COMMUNICATION BOUNDARIES

Communication is incredibly important when you’re not working face to face. While some people are more chatty than others, some are blunter and get to the point right away.

For those that are more “to the point”, emails can come off as rude when they’re not. For that reason, it is always a good practise to read emails twice and assume they are sent with the most cooperative approach.

Slack is a great communication tool on a daily basis which keeps us all in the loop with what everybody is doing and common projects too. I totally recommend it.

Slack used on Safari
Photo by Stephen Phillips

We also carry out weekly meetings on Zoom or other conferencing platforms. It is good to make these face to face virtual meetings at least once a month - so we don’t forget what we look like ! It's nice to have smiling faces and see any physical changes too (different colour hair, tanning, how much fitter we are getting, etc).

Overall I believe the internal communication and also how we present ourselves with our clients is essential during this uncertain time. Even when business activities are low, it is good to show we are still operative and care for our clients and colleagues, and of course for the business.

Like in every single type of relationship, communication is KEY!


Boundaries are Beautiful

The workplace and our homes have merged for the foreseeable future. But if you set it up correctly by drawing clear boundaries, it can be an extremely positive experience for you. So take a moment now to:

  1. Make time to move around your home office
  2. Know exactly when it's time to work and when it's time to play
  3. Communicate openly and often, but let everyone know when you're not available

There are many more ways to make working remotely a positive experience. But this should be enough to get you started on the right path.

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