The balance of professional and personal lives differs for working from the office and remote workers. When you are sitting in your cubicle at work, there are peering eyes all around you. Instead, you have friends and family all around you. When working from the office, most boundaries establish themselves, such as sick days, working hours, etc. Things can get tricky when you are working from home because you need to set clear boundaries for yourself.
Here are some clear boundaries you must establish if you are working remotely:
Remote work is gaining popularity worldwide. It is gradually becoming an accepted norm as companies are making adjustments to their operations to allow employees to work from anywhere. As a remote worker, you can work from anywhere and at any time, but does that mean you should be required to work at all times? You need to set clear boundaries for work.
You can’t perform at your best if you are blowing your nose and coughing every 30 seconds. Imagine juggling conference calls while caring for your sick kids or parents. It would be much better if you took the time to get better and sort out whatever is demanding your attention. That way, you can come back in full swing without anything holding you back from doing your best.
Sick days are a part of the benefits you get in your employment contract; use them when needed. You shouldn’t feel guilty about calling off from work if you are working from home.
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is that you can work from anywhere at any time. It is practically possible for you to work while waiting for your kid's dance rehearsals to end. This is a benefit of taking your work on the go but let it not interfere when you have a special occasion.
Remote employees feel extra pressure to demonstrate productivity which could lead to burnout. It makes sense to take time to enjoy these special occasions. It is good that you can work during your kid’s practices, but you should take some time off so you can attend the performance.
There is no harm in taking some time off from work when you have to be there for your relationships. It is better to be present in one place than to have your attention divided and be absent from everywhere.
With that in mind, managing your schedule is up to you. Unfortunately, work will take as much of your life as you allow it to. Flexible schedules are one of the best things that happen to work. However, if you end up working on the weekends, coworkers are likely to assume that you left early one day and are simply making up hours.
Be clear and communicate your schedule. If your team utilizes Slack or other communication tools, show yourself as “available” and ensure everyone knows when you are working. Be present and responsive when you’re working, and then stop responding at quitting time. Like in an office, coworkers should respect personal time, but you need to make it apparent when that is.
If you work from home, your family members may feel that your schedule is more flexible than it is. This can be a problem if you need to get in a few hours of focused work. Don’t feel bad about prioritizing work over family during work hours.
As mentioned before, you want to be present with any one role at a time. Tell your friends and family when you will be available to them. They will understand your need to focus on work during office hours and will be available to them distraction-free after you clock out.
If you need to put your head down and focus, ensure everyone knows when they can’t interrupt. Reinforce this with a visual cue, such as a closed door or a bold “STOP” sign.
Pre-planning for success is up to you if you have kids. Younger kids might do well with unique toys that only come out during must-do-work times. Subscription boxes are a relatively inexpensive way to get something new each month to hold their interest. For older children and other adults, something as simple as posting your schedule on the door helps them know when they can stop by for a chat.
Sharing space requires communication and a transparent schedule, even without children in the home. Perhaps your internet connection won’t support multiple Zoom meetings simultaneously. Maybe your roommate has a mini-karaoke convention every Thursday.
Most overlooked but essential boundaries? The ones you set with yourself.
Staying focused while working from home is about 20 times harder than in a traditional office.
Unless you work for a fun pop culture site, the chances are that you will waste precious minutes of your work time looking at random stuff. Hold yourself accountable for your working time budget. If you don’t actually work during work hours, you have to make that up later. And that will eat into your personal time budget.
Sure, you could work in your jammies. But having a tangible transition into work mode will help put your mindset in the right place.
Remote work means you can save money on your official office attire. That doesn’t mean that you never have to get dressed, though. Retaining a routine of working attire vs. day-off loungewear ensures you are mentally checking in and out of work mode.
Establishing boundaries with your work life is always essential. In a remote role, your work simply requires a little more pre-planning and intentional communication.
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Kamal Rastogi is a serial IT entrepreneur with 25 yrs plus experience. Currently his focus area is Data Science business, ERP Consulting, IT Staffing and Experttal.com (Fastest growing US based platform to hire verified / Risk Compliant Expert IT resources from talent rich countries like India, Romania, Philippines etc...directly). His firms service clients like KPMG, Deloitte, EnY, Samsung, Wipro, NCR Corporation etc in India and USA.