Fourteen ways to set home working boundaries

The pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) forces many of us to work from home. As we do so, it is vital that we put boundaries in place. To look after our wellbeing, we need to separate work time and personal time.

For me, the word boundaries trigger images of garden fences and hedges. I’ve been thinking of ways to install these virtual fences at home to make sure there is a balance between work and rest.

At the beginning of lockdown, I was working the time I used to commute, on top of my working hours. Before long, I realised I was exhausted and needed to set these boundaries. I have children and now finish work at 4pm to pick them up from the after-school club. Try and see what suits your lifestyle and discuss flexible working with your manager.

Emotional boundaries

The important thing about boundaries when you work from home is to talk about them. Share your feelings with your family and your manager, also with your team and regular stakeholders. If you prefer to work 8am to 4pm, do it. If you are more efficient after 10am, do it.

Email signature showing working hours.

Your organisation should have an employee support helpline, check your intranet. And you can also contact Samaritans, the charity aimed at providing emotional support.

Stretch your body and breathe. Listen to your favourite song. Talk to your team, your network, using phone or instant message to avoid video conference overload. All these tiny breaks, away from your computer for a few minutes will actually reduce your visual fatigue. It will make you feel better and more productive.

Read this Civil Service blog post on how time management techniques and a sense of awe can increase our well being. Respecting your time will allow you to have energy for your favourite activities and hobbies.

Woman working on computer at home with a big sign 'do not disturb' next to her.

7 tips on setting physical boundaries

  • follow a schedule
  • make your bed, already a win
  • workout in the morning to wake up your body
  • wear work clothes to feel ready for the day
  • have lunch away from your computer
  • go for a walk to reset your thinking
  • if possible work in a separate room that you can shut the door to

7 tips on creating digital boundaries

  • turn off social media notifications
  • add your working hours to your email signature
  • put your out of office on if you want to focus on a task
  • check your emails only at set times of the day
  • schedule breaks in your calendar or phone to be prompted
  • end the day by closing your laptop and putting it away in its bag, until the next day
  • turn off your work phone as soon as you finish your working day

I want to leave you with this quote from Peter Drucker about time management. He was an Austrian-born American author and influential thinker on management:

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

    Image credits:
  • Stephanie Hill (1)
  • Stephanie Hill (2)
  • Stephanie Hill (3)