Career Advice

Setting Work From Home Boundaries

setting work from home boundaries

As more and more people work from home, many have difficulty stepping away from their computer and end their work day. Some employees report burning out or feeling overworked. Others fear if they actually work a standard shift while at home, they will appear as “lazy” to their team. If you fall into any of those scenarios and need assistance, this article provides a few tips on setting work from home boundaries.

Setting Work From Home Boundaries: Communicate With Your Manager And Team

The first thing you should do if you haven’t already is setup a quick 10 to 15 minute meeting with your manager to discuss your work from home schedule. During this meeting you should be honest and transparent about why you need to work between certain hours. If you have parental responsibilities, say so. Maybe your energy levels are better when you start work around 10am instead of 8am. Whatever the reason, you must tell your manager.

Now, you will need to ready to compromise. Maybe your position requires you to work late certain days, or attend some early meetings. Be ready to modify your schedule to accommodate that. As a result of your flexibility, your manager is more likely to approve your modified work schedule.

Finally, you need to communicate these changes to your coworkers. You can do this during a team meeting or you can send out an email to the group. Either way, you must make it known that you will be online during certain hours working, and the others hours you are busy with your personal life. I can’t stress the importance of being transparent here. You aren’t going to come across as a slacker. Your coworkers have families and lives too, so they will understand.

Setting Work From Home Boundaries: Don’t Check Anything Work-Related Unless It’s An Emergency

With today’s technological advancements, employees can be reached via phone, email, text message, and computer. Due to that, employees can also stay connected to work long after their work day ends.

So what can you do? Don’t check anything work-related unless it’s an emergency. I follow this tip even though I work in a technical role at a tech company. There are times when I go on-call, meaning if an emergency happens I am paged / called for assistance. Even then, I don’t check my work email or Slack after work hours. If something is truly an emergency at work after hours, someone will call me.

Hence, it’s fine to put your work phone down or dismiss a work email at night. This is your time to relax and spend time with family or friends.

Learn When To Push Back

Unfortunately, some companies will not listen to your concerns. They may not allow you a flexible work schedule. Some may even want you to answer emails early in the morning or late at night. In these cases, you need to push back.

Your first move is to speak with your manager. Explain to him or her the truth about your working atmosphere. Sometimes management puts into place schedules or rules that are too rigid. Yet, they don’t realize it until an employee or two speak up.

However, if your management doesn’t budge, raise your concerns with Human Resources. Although I dislike telling people to go to Human Resources regarding their concerns because that department is there to protect the company and not the employees, in this instance they can be a good ally.

You must make them realize an unfavorable work from home environment will:

  • Decreases your work productivity, costing the company time and money.
  • Increases the chances of you burning out, which again costs the company time and money.
  • Decreases morale for the entire team, which again costs the company time and money.

When Human Resources realizes the potential legal and financial trouble, they will work with management to improve the situation.

Finally, if setting work from home boundaries fails all together, then it’s time to find another job. You have to look out for the well-being of your physical and mental state. Employers today, sadly, won’t do so.


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