How to Set Up Boundaries When Working from Anywhere
Technology has enabled today’s workforce to accomplish business tasks in the office, from home, or on the go. Teams can truly work from anywhere – with a wide variety of devices. Tablets, laptops, and even smartphones provide power and portability unmatched in the past.
The flexibility of working anywhere does bring new challenges with it. Focusing on tasks at hand and maintaining productivity are major concerns when working in new surroundings like coffee shops, airports, or even your home.
In can be difficult to set up boundaries when working from home offices or while traveling, due to the many natural distractions:
- Family members that seem to interrupt at the most inopportune times
- Pets that need to play or go for a walk
- Email that just keeps coming, along with non-business phone calls
- Other travelers and surrounding activity
There are ways to set up meaningful boundaries for work from home (WFH) employees that can help solve the dilemma of working outside of the traditional office environment that promote efficiency and help maintain a reasonable level of sanity.
Set Up a Designated Home Office
When working from home, create an office space where family members understand you are “off-limits” and not open to day-to-day family distractions.
If possible, make your workspace an area with low traffic so that inadvertent distractions are kept to a minimum. A spare bedroom, study, or even a basement can be an effective home office area. Ensure you have an environment that is still conducive to productivity – access to phone or VOIP capability, printing capability, and internet access for reliable communications and file sharing.
Stress to family members that when you’re working, you need to be attentive to business activities, with minimal disruptions. Dealing with family matters will come after your working hours.
It can be beneficial to re-enforce your availability by selecting a workspace where you can close the door while working, or even just put up a sign that plainly states you’re at work.
Create a Schedule and Practice Discipline
Of course, a great deal of working from anywhere will not be from your home. You may be working from the public library, customer sites, or while on the road.
Wherever your location, having rules will help you set boundaries – even for yourself.
Set Your Work Schedule
You need to meet your employer’s expectations for work tasks, but working remotely provides you with the ability to set your schedule. You may find that a better schedule is to work for a few hours in the morning, take a break for a couple of hours, then come back to business tasks later in the day.
We all have times when we’re at our peak performance, so set your schedule, but stick to it. Your coworkers and management need to be aware of your schedule and availability as well.
Setting your schedule is part of the equation but be sure to plan regular breaks. It’s good to get away from your computer and chair sometimes so you can clear your head and stretch. Keeping your nose to the keyboard can be hypnotizing – turn away and have lunch or walk around periodically.
We all need to recharge on occasion. Don’t let the ease of checking on work activity lure you away from your vacation time or PTO days. When you’re not working – enjoy your time off.
Don’t Neglect Appearance
This is a boundary to set for yourself – dress code.
There are plenty of jokes about workers who work from home and skip the traditional office attire – working in their PJs and bunny slippers. One of the most efficient methods for maintaining contact with the boss and coworkers is through videoconferencing. Be sure your appearance is always such that you’re not embarrassed when that webcam comes to life.
Set Technical Boundaries
Your access to productive work tasks includes reliable communications with peers, managers, and customers. Set up your internet access, WiFi, and videoconferencing securely so that you have reliable and private connections.
Especially when working from unfamiliar or public places, only use WiFi networks in conjunction with a VPN service. This eliminates exposure to hackers, eavesdroppers, or other WiFi users who may be “listening in” on your communications.
Leave the Workplace Behind
It’s an easy trap to fall into – walking past your designated workspace later in the evening, you log into your laptop or check your business email to see if there’s anything that may need your attention. Set your home life boundary to not let work impose on your family time. When work is done for the day, let it stay done.
Establishing these basic boundaries when working from anywhere will make home life more enjoyable for everyone while still providing the benefits and flexibility offered by joining the remote workforce.