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Setting Boundaries in Remote Work

The Role of Managers

Covid has changed the workplace dynamic forever. Some employees do not want to go back to the office or at least work from home 2-3 days a week.

From time to time, I post a guest blog. Today's blog is by Charlie Fletcher. You can contact her at: [email protected].

While there are many perks to working at home, a significant downside is that it is harder to shut off your work at the end of your eight hours. This isn’t an isolated phenomenon either. More than 53% of remote workers in a survey reported working more hours in comparison to in-office work and 58% reported the differentiation between their work and personal lives blurred as well.

Many managers aren't helping either. By requiring employees to be “on call” at all hours of the day, they are hurting their teams by essentially blurring the lines between work and life roles, which often leads to burnout.

If you are a remote worker or the manager of a remote team, you need to learn boundaries and limits. Today, we will talk about the issues in the world of remote work and how managers and employees can find the work/life balance they deserve.

What Your Manager Needs To Know

As a leader, it is important that you encourage your team to succeed and you are compassionate and ethical without gaslighting or pushing them too hard. By not caring for their needs or allowing a work/life balance, you could be negatively impacting their mental health. If your team thinks that they are being pushed too hard, then they could experience feelings of burnout and eventually depression. When your agents are upset, then you can expect to see a decline in their productivity, and some folks may eventually quit.

It’s also important to support their personal lives if you’re committed to the success of remote work. In one survey, 79% of employees say they’ve been able to make their remote work more productive since they’ve been allotted flexible time to manage their family matters. If you try to simulate an in-office environment in a remote environment by requiring employees to stay on a strict schedule every day, and potentially work more hours despite being within the confines of their own homes, they’re more likely to build resentment and check out mentally.

On the other side of the coin, if you value your team and show your appreciation and allow for flexible benefits, your employees will be happier, and they will show their gratitude through their work. They may even refer other qualified candidates who can help your company continue to thrive.

It is all about being there for your team. Sometimes, you may be so wrapped up in a project that you don’t realize that you are pushing your employees as hard as you are. That is why it is important to create a virtual open-door policy where your employees come to you, express their concerns, and expect to get a solution for their issues. Allow multiple channels for communication, including phone, email, and virtual meetings so you can see your employees face-to-face.

Mobile Tech May Be The Issue

According to a study from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, the reason that many remote employees and managers are overworked is because of the use of mobile technology in the workplace. Many managers may be concerned that it is too hard to keep track of remote employees, so they provide them with a mobile device so they can contact them at any time.

The problem is that many managers can push the boundaries of their remote workers and contact them outside of their office hours. This is a problem because if your team is worried about work when they should be focusing on their home and family, it can blur the lines between their professional and personal lives. Remote work

Managers need to reach out to their employees, set their working hours in stone, and make it a point not to contact them on their personal phones or bother them when they are off the clock. Put a schedule on your wall that lists all shifts, and then refer to it before you send your employee a text or email. Most tasks can wait until the next business day, so don’t put an unnecessary burden on your workers if it isn’t necessary.

Employees also need to know when to shut down. Work the same shift every day, and when your alarm sounds and you know it is time to clock out, do so. Then, keep your laptop and phone on your desk and don’t return until the next day. It may also be helpful to put your devices on mute so you can’t hear the notifications from the other room.

Have A Plan

The other reason why many managers and employees tend to work longer hours is because it can be harder to focus and stay on task within the comfort of their own homes. In 2022, Statista found that over 21% of remote employees reported that difficulty focusing was one of their biggest struggles with remote work. In addition, this same survey found that other struggles included not being able to unplug (27% reported this concern) and working more (20% reported this concern).

Many people have televisions, smartphones, and video game systems in their rooms, so they don’t have a reason to leave. If you really want to set boundaries, you first need to limit all of those distractions so you can focus on your work and establish set times for work and relaxation.

Then, once you have only the tools that you need in your home office, create a plan of what you hope to accomplish every day. Write out your short-term goals and set a schedule of when you hope to complete them during the day. This is a surefire way to accomplish your tasks and still be ready to leave at the end of the day.

While you don’t want to get distracted at work, you also don’t want to be tied to your computer so much that you are stuck to your chair for eight hours. Instead, you need to take your breaks and lunches when they come around and make it a point to get up and stretch. Take a walk outside and get some fresh air, and then you can come back to your desk feeling mentally refreshed.

As you can see, it is important to set boundaries in your remote work so you can accomplish your tasks without sacrificing your work/life balance. Consider the tips discussed here, and you can feel more satisfied with your job and your position.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on March 28, 2023. You can sign up for Steve’s newsletter and learn more about his activities on his website  (https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/). and by following him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage. Check out professional recommendations on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/steven-mintz-aka-ethics-sage-98268126/.