Working Remotely Is Not an Excuse to Ignore Boundaries

As the workplace evolves, so must our efforts to safeguard personal time.


Tealfeed Guest Blog

3 years ago | 4 min read

We will remember 2020 for a great number of reasons. One of which is the redefining of how our society views the workplace.

There has been much speculation about the continual changes to how we work. From retail stores to offices, everyone is having to make adjustments.

The broad changes to offices, in particular, has lead to a rise in a certain population. Remote workers.

Remote work has been growing in the U.S. for some time now. Since 2005, the number of remote staff has grown by 159%. This kind of employment is very familiar to a large number of people. And the benefits are becoming more celebrated.

The Amazing Benefits of a Remote Workforce

The indisputable value of working from home and a bold prediction of the future.

Spring 2020 has forced a great number of workers into that lifestyle. And there was no warning or welcome packet. This “‘new normal,” requires a reframing of certain social and professional norms.

What is the earliest you check work email?

How late are you responding to texts?

Let’s talk about work boundaries. Because chances are, many of us aren’t respecting our own time the way we did in 2019.

Redefine It

Work-life balance has a different meaning when those environments become one single location.

It becomes far too easy for work emails to bleed into breakfast with the family. Working late was something you may have avoided. Now “a meeting running late” no longer impacts your commute home.

Immediately we start putting in 10–12 hour days. And we may ask the same from others without even realizing it.

Solution: There are some professions requiring availability 24/7. For the rest of us, it’s time to redefine our hours at work. Hold yourself accountable to regular clock-in and clock-out times.

Quit Projecting

It’s not a requirement to share the exact same values as your coworkers. We can all be individuals, especially in our personal lives. As such, you wouldn’t attempt to push those values on them.

If I choose to wake up early and go for a run, that’s completely my choice. Another option would be to spend that same hour answering work emails at 6:00 am. Regardless of my choice, I’m not going to tell you to do the same.

Given the ease of access, it’s important to respect your coworkers’ time and boundaries. Emergencies happen, but texts at 9:00 pm about a meeting summary should not; manager or intern.

Solution: Recognize your own values as they pertain to your work-life. Remember that time is a valuable commodity. How you value yours should not impact how you perceive that of others.

In other words, it’s fine if you want to work until midnight for no urgent reason. Don’t expect your team to do the same.

Train Your Brain

Some of us have participated in a social experiment called commuting. We no longer have that limitless joy. Be it driving along the highway with only your thoughts or listening to podcast on the train or ferry. All on pause.

We now measure our commutes in steps and not miles.

The result is that our subconscious no longer flips the ‘work’ switch over to the ‘personal’ side. Time has become a jumbled mess. Everything looks like what used to be personal time and now we have to force work hours into it.

Some have the luxury of a home office. Others confined to split their time in a studio apartment. There must be a distinct line between your time working and your personal time. No matter the square footage of your home.

The moment the two mix, work-time will begin to take over. Between pressure from others to a sense of guilt for not being available.

Solution: Shower. Get dressed for work. Regardless of your commute being across the room or the house. Put yourself in the headspace that you’re ‘going’ to work. This will set your mind into a productive mode.

Second, define the window of time for a normal workday. (Not the emergency meeting day where people use nautical terms to define responsibilities.) Whatever your decision, hold yourself to those times. Do the same with coworkers, by training them to realize the hours you remain unavailable.

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

The recent upheaval to established work environments has made us all feel unsettled. The coffee table once associated with personal time now pulls double-duty as a home office.

This could be your new way of working after all. Some predictions are that 73% of teams will have remote staff by 2028.

It’s time to reassociate our minds with the division of work and home. There is no need to stress if you have become an inadvertent workaholic. You have plenty of time to change that behavior if you choose.

Also, you may be in love with productivity and see this as an opportunity.

Look at all that regained time. This is where confirmation bias takes control. If you’re getting so much more work done, why not keep using the time once wasted commuting on doing more?

Bonus Solutions: Turn off work email and chat notifications during non-work hours. Close the work computer. Hide the work phone. Put on comfy clothes and sit on the couch with your kids, dog, or a bag of Doritos. Disconnect mentally, physically, and digitally.

This article was originally published by Michael LaNasa on medium.


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