Virtual Teams

Setting work and home boundaries when wfh

Many of us have experienced increased blurring of our work and home roles during the COVID lockdowns with family responsibilities and work responsibilities competing for our attention at the same time. As the situation stabilises an important part of sustainable home working is having boundaries between home and work that work for you personally.

Without boundaries between our work and home roles, blurring can lead to confusion and conflict when we move from one to the other. When working from home we inherently have more opportunities for work and home roles and tasks to interrupt each other. We create boundaries naturally to simplify and organize our lives.

“You can’t drive away from the office at the end of the day when it’s in your house. The three priorities you didn’t get to today are a few feet away from handling. Why not go back to the desk and polish off one more task?”

Some people have very contrasted or segmented roles, where they act very differently at home than they do at work. Others have much more role integration where there is relatively little contrast between their identities at work and at home. The bigger the difference between your roles, the larger the psychological transition you need to make moving between them.

“At work I am pretty hard driving and assertive, I tend to get straight to the point and push for completion fast. That doesn’t work out so well for me at home.”

When moving between roles there are three phases

  • Exiting the old role, psychologically winding down, clearing away your tools, equipment, or papers
  • Movement and transition – traditionally done during the commute to and from work where people can start to engage or disengage with work, reflect on the day, and begin the transition to the other role
  • Entering the new role – arriving in the new role, engaging with colleagues, setting up our work

These phases enable us to manage the role transitions, prepare psychologically for the other tole and prevent unwanted blurring where we bring the problems, stresses and behaviours from one role into the other.

People normally have rituals, habits and routines that signal these phases. What are yours and how can you translate them to a WFH environment?

These ideas form a small part of a practical programme focused on balancing productivity, resilience and sustainability by generating healthy boundaries, habits and routines that allow us to both stay productive, and at the same time manage energy and work/life balance.

If you would like to find out more about this or our other working from home training, please let us know.

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