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When you spend so much time working, it is crucial to be sure you establish a healthy routine with both work and life habits that ensure you are minimizing your daily stress. In this article, we’re going to talk about the importance of building workplace boundaries in any workplace.

There are quite a number of factors that can come into play throughout the working hours that can influence your mental health. We’ll go over several scenarios to watch out for, suggestions to help you through them, as well as some best practices in maintaining workplace boundaries.

It’s Your Life

Once you join the workforce, you quickly realize just how much your job impacts your life. The average employed American will spend more than 8 hours a day working, which adds up to one-third of your whole life. Considering we spend nearly half of our lives in bed, it puts it into perspective just how important it is to make the most of the rest of our time. 

Workplace stress can carry into your personal life just as much as it affects your work life. Stress can affect your overall health and wellbeing as well as take a toll on your mental health.

It can also lead to sleepless nights where you’re tossing and turning thinking about work-related issues you will have to face the next day. With this in mind, it’s easy to see just how important it is to improve the quality of your work life. 

Building Workplace Boundaries

Remote Work

Whether you’ve been a remote employee for some time, or are just learning the ins and outs of working from home, working remotely has been a challenge many more people are facing. The common hurdles of remote work do not have to prevent the arrangement from working for you. 

Set a Schedule

Even for individuals who may have been great at time management, teleworking can present challenges you wouldn’t have necessarily faced in the office. Carving out time for your various projects not only gives you a clear idea of what you have to get accomplished throughout the week but can also help you prioritize better to stay productive.

Sharing a general schedule of your day to day with your colleagues helps better communicate when you are available for meetings or calls. This is especially important when you have children at home and still have parental duties outside of the “new normal” workday. Y

our coworkers and superiors can’t be understanding of your work schedule if they are unaware of when you are available.

Establishing a schedule for the week also helps you better understand your personal expectations.

Arranging goals and putting time aside for high priority projects will help hold yourself accountable. While there are many benefits to working from home, you can easily become distracted during your working hours. Without a plan, it can be difficult to get back on track and catch up in your tasks.

Get Dressed

Another important personal boundary is to start taking the time in the morning to get up and prepare for work as if you were still following your commuting routine. Waking up a few minutes earlier and getting dressed can help you wake up for the day and not endure that initial grogginess that happens when you roll out of bed.

While the dress code at the home office is a lot more casual, getting out of your pajamas helps you get into the mindset for a day of work. This way, you’re also ready to hop on a video call if your team needs to meet and you’re already ready to run to the coffee shop if you need an extra boost. 

Home Office

The phrase “home office” might conjure up a certain image in your mind: a small room designated for working complete with a desk, a stocked bookshelf, a filing cabinet, and a desk lamp. For those who have suddenly found themselves remote or don’t have the extra space–this may not be your reality. 

However, it is crucial that you find an area you can devote to a workspace. It signals to your brain and anyone else that might be home that you need to be left alone to work for the specific office hours you set. To best maintain the work-life balance you need to be able to better separate these things.

There once was a certain pang of relief when you walked into your home after a long day at work, so be sure that you have a space to walk away from so that the rest of your house or apartment still feels like home. Stick to your workspace during your working hours and leave it when you’re done for the day.

Office Space

Being in the office holds a different potential for boundary-crossing. Being prepared for some of these circumstances can help support your mental health at work. Knowing ahead of time how to handle these situations can give you peace of mind if you find yourself in an office conflict.

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Office Layout

Places of work can vary considerably in layout. Some will be housed in its own or even a shared building, while others will have private offices for their employees or have a cubicle-like structure. More open floor plans might make communicating and cross-collaboration easier; it may also give way to more socializing than you have time for. 

Allow yourself time to have friendly visits with coworkers, but not too much time to distract from your workday. If the temptation of close proximity poses too much opportunity for distraction, try some light music with noise-canceling headphones.

This will help tune out any office noise pollution and keep you on task. Usually, headphones are a signal to those around you that you’re looking to focus on and can help to prevent interruptions. 

Shared Spaces

As companies modernize, they might implement opportunities to give their employees alternative or more collaborative workspaces. This could mean bringing in soft seating, open conference rooms, and even stand up desks. Be sure that you follow common space etiquette when using these areas as to respect the space and the personal boundaries of others.

While certain shared spaces may be seen as a more social atmosphere, some can be used similarly to a “quiet-area,” in which those in the area must remain quiet.

Before confronting coworkers for speaking in these areas, consider that it is a bit more of a social setting and a place they can go to work together. Perhaps if it is too loud, it is not a good time for you to be there, or consider pulling out a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Meetings

Scheduling meetings can sometimes prove to be difficult when you’re accommodating multiple schedules. If your office has a limited number of meeting areas, make sure your meeting is planned accurately and that you are estimating the time needed as accurately as possible.

If you think your team needs more time, rather than go past your designated time, plan a follow-up meeting. It is always important to respect the meeting times of others as you hope yours are respected as well.

Out-Of-Office

Perhaps one of the most important boundaries you can establish is one when you’re not working. Unless there are some extenuating circumstances, there is no reason to work outside of your normal schedule. Let the emails sit in the inbox until the morning.

If your line of work might require some after-hours attention, make sure you come up with a healthy way of handling these situations. Limit it to a certain amount of time, only on certain days of the week, or only by a certain method of communication are good ways to start. 

Saving time for yourself, family, and friends without the distraction of work-related items help to balance out the stress from work and maintain healthy relationships. If you want to stay sharp for work, you need recovery time. 

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Clear Restrictions

If your company uses an accessible calendar for scheduling meetings, use it to show your availability and block off time any personal time you need. If your office is using a mix of remote and in-office time, you can even include where you’re working from right on the calendar. It also makes it easy for you to reference when project planning and estimating timelines. 

Taking advantage of this can help you prioritize and understand how much available time you will have throughout the week. If someone asks how much time you’ll need before expecting a deliverable from you, it can be very easy to estimate the needed time.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or overworked your schedule can act as a tool to help block off any appropriate time you need to be working on various projects. 

“You-Time”

Because we spend a third of our life working and another half of it asleep, extra time is so limited. This is why it is vital to stick to your working hours and not let your work infiltrate the free time you may have.

Our hobbies and interests outside of work can be very important to our motivation and happiness. Don’t short yourself from these activities. Ultimately, the hobbies and extra-curricular you enjoy can make you a well-rounded individual who can provide new insights and creative ideas.

A large part of your value is the individual perspective that you gain from outside of your working environment, so don’t underestimate the importance of your free time.

Around the Water Cooler

Spending some time with your coworkers can be very helpful to growing a healthy bond with your team.

Having time to chat about mutual interests outside of work helps you build a team bond that can help production run smoother. A lot of times, there is more in common with coworkers other than reporting to the same manager every day. 

As with any relationship, becoming an understanding and empathetic team member can help you better support your coworkers. The ability to empathize with coworkers on occasions where boundaries may have been crossed, toes may have been stepped on, or feelings may have been hurt can help your team as a whole.

Be Prepared

Being able to approach conflict in the office in a mature and healthy way is a very important aspect when entering the workforce. People tend to dislike when you go straight to management before trying to resolve any issues directly first. Casual, unpatronizing tones to bring up any concerns with someone privately is usually a great first step.

Some people get anxious about any kind of confrontation at all. Whether it’s an issue of having too much work on their plate or having trouble with differing personalities, it’s important to speak up.

If you’re worried about having these discussions try reaching out to an office mentor, or even someone in human resources. Seeking guidance from a trusted coworker beforehand can help prepare you for what you want to say and how you want to say it. You may even find that it isn’t your responsibility to address certain issues yourself. 

company values improves employee commitment and loyalty

Your Options

How employees relate with one another is largely determined by a company’s core values. People tend to emulate what they see or abide by what they’re told the rules that are in place actually are.

Strong values might dictate workplace culture. Refamiliarize yourself with your company’s policies and values to make sure you’re taking the right course of action and that you’re in alignment with their expectations. 

Responsibilities & Deligating

When taking on responsibilities at work, it can be easy to fall into the “yes-man” trap. You want to be the person your boss can always rely on, and the person who always steps up to a challenge.

Your value is not predicated on saying yes. Knowing your limits and taking on what you can handle is far more valuable in the long term. This helps you avoid unnecessary stress, being late on deadlines, burnout, and not living up to your own expectations.

If you think your schedule is starting to look like more than you can handle, it’s better for both you and your team if you say so sooner rather than later. Speaking up for yourself will allow the work to be delegated to people who can help pick up the slack or delay timelines to accommodate a project’s needs. 

It’s a sign of trust to your bosses and managers when someone cares enough to ask for help. They know they can trust you with what you say you can take on and gives them the confidence in you that you have the skill of knowing when to delegate.

Written By
Brian Thomas is an avid writer of business and technology trends. He hopes to educate hobbyist readers with his expertise in these spaces. In his free time, he likes to go on long-distance bike rides in his hometown, Philly.

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