The world of work has changed so much in just a few short years – driven in part by the pandemic and also by broader changes, such as the arrival of Gen Z in the employment sector and changing societal attitudes. One of the biggest shifts has been towards working remotely, whether on a permanent or more occasional, hybrid basis with some time still spent in a physical office. But whether you work from home full-time or just occasionally, it’s important to know how to optimize your space so that you can maintain those vital workplace boundaries.
Here are some tips for maintaining workplace boundaries while working remotely:
1. Have a dedicated work area
It’s very difficult to get into the right frame of mind for your job if you are looking at piles of laundry, unwashed dishes or personal life admin. Ideally, you want to create your own home office, but if you don’t have the luxury of a dedicated room, at least have a clean and clear desk that you can reserve solely for your job during working hours.
2. Dress the part
What we wear affects how we feel, so don’t sit in your pyjamas! Wear something smart and comfortable, so that you clearly denote your working status – even to yourself. It’s important to feel professional and you’ll speak and interact differently online if you take care of your appearance and feel your best.
3. “Walk to work”
Commutes are tedious but they do add some exercise and thinking time into the day. Try and replicate your old commute by going for a short walk before you log on. The fresh air will clear your head and boost your blood circulation so that your brain is firing and ready to go.
4. Ask others to respect your working space
If you live with flatmates or family, ask them to respect your working space and working hours as much as possible. Interruptions are unprofessional and will distract you from your work and performance. Remember, this is your employment and it needs to be treated as a priority.
5. Watch out for too many notifications
Distractions won’t just come from your home. You may get too many emails or messages, constantly fighting for your attention (and impacting your productivity). In order to stay on top of your workload and manage your own wellbeing, it’s important to learn how to manage workplace communications.
6. Have a plan
Start the day with a plan that focuses on three things you want to achieve that day and some key priorities. Work on your hardest and most important task before beginning anything else and then reward yourself with ten minutes of downtime and a drink.
7. Invest in your ongoing development
Read about your industry, take online courses, find out which development opportunities exist for you and generally continue to commit to your own upskilling and personal development so that you can develop your own career path from home, in the same way that you would in a traditional office setting.
8. Join in
If you are part of an online team of homeworkers, join in as much as possible with any social occasions, whether they are related to team chat online, or take place after work. It’s great to enjoy that social interaction and to build up relationships, even if your teammates work in an entirely different geographical location.
9. Switch off
At the end of your working day, resist the temptation to keep checking emails. Log off properly, clear away your desk space or shut your office door. Treat your ‘home time’ with respect and begin your family, social and leisure time with commitment and focused enjoyment. Successful careers require work-life balance, so the more you can enjoy both, the better your performance will be.
Working from home has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. It offers a flexible schedule, eliminates commuting time, and can be a more cost-effective way to work. However, it’s important to remember to set some clear workplace boundaries in order to stay focused and avoid distractions while at work, but also to respect your own time and space.