A recent facilitator in the Emerging Leaders Program shared the quote, “We no longer work from home. We now live at work.” Think about that for a moment. For ages, office workers have talked about work/life balance. In some instances, they’ve even made the case to their organizations that working from home would enable them to achieve better work/life balance while maintaining — if not improving — their productivity. And, now many find themselves in the strange predicament of “living at work.” How, then, do they establish and hold boundaries that support a healthy balance?
With Work — Begin by having a conversation with your supervisor to better understand the expectations. Even if the organization’s standard operating hours pre-pandemic were 9 am to 5 pm, it’s unwise to hold hard and fast to those workday bookends if the company has extended those a bit on either end. It’s better to work with your supervisor to create reasonable expectations, for example:
that you would be available for meetings and timely responses to electronic communications between the hours of XX and YY during the workweek;
to establish acceptable response times outside of that norm;
and, to discuss how emergencies will be handled.
These parameters allow you to better communicate with your key stakeholders — your peers, your clients, those you manage — so that they understand what they can expect from you. But, here’s the hard part, you then need to commit to these boundaries for yourself.
With Yourself — So, you’ve had all of these conversations, and you feel more in control of bounding your workday. But, then comes the slippery slope…
My computer is in my living room. I pass it hundreds of times in the evening and on weekends. I’ll just quickly pop on and see if so-and-so responded to my email…
I need a break from chores, let me just scroll through the company Slack channels to see if I’ve missed anything…
It’s my day off but I don’t really have any plans, so let me call so-and-so back. They said they’d be around.