Let’s face it, setting boundaries at work can be tough for anyone, but if you’re trying to make it to that next step in your career, things can be even more difficult. So, how do you balance pushing yourself toward your career goals with creating healthy boundaries between your work and personal life?
To help you establish proper and effective work boundaries — whether around your time, space, or work relationships — here are a few tips.
Why Are Healthy Work Boundaries Important?
Whether you’re up for a promotion, trying to prove yourself to your boss, or trying to convince management to give you a raise, you should never sacrifice your boundaries. In fact, failing to maintain healthy work boundaries can be counterproductive and stand in the way of you getting ahead in your career.
Here’s why these boundaries are so important.
1. Healthy work boundaries are good for your mental health.
When you feel burnt out or taken advantage of at work, it can take a massive toll on your mental well-being. By setting appropriate work boundaries, you may just find that your mood, energy levels, and overall mental health improve. After all, when you’re successfully managing your mental well-being, you’ll not only feel better but also perform better at your job, which is a win-win.
2. Healthy work boundaries improve job satisfaction.
If you’ve been feeling down about your job and you stop to analyze why that is, you may find that you’re actually feeling down about your lack of boundaries. Put better boundaries in place, then reevaluate your feelings about work. You may very well find that boundaries rekindle your passion for what you do.
3. Healthy work boundaries improve inter-office relationships.
Nobody wants to work in an environment with a lot of tension and disrespect among employees. When you and your colleagues have established healthy boundaries to protect your work relationships, you’ll likely find that you and your team get along better, are happier overall, and are more productive as a result.
What Kind of Work Boundaries Do You Need?
Not all work boundaries are the same and you may find that you’re better at setting and maintaining some boundaries than others. Here are three types of work boundaries everyone needs as well as tips on how to enforce them.
1. Boundaries around working hours
We all need boundaries around our working hours.
If your lack of work-hour boundaries is self-inflicted rather than employer-inflicted, take a step back and analyze how much you truly need to work and how much you’re going above and beyond what’s necessary. Then hold yourself accountable to upholding new boundaries. Even if you’re scheduling family dinners or carving out time to go to the gym, keeping these boundaries will benefit you.
But what if it’s your employer who’s expecting you to spend more hours on the clock than you’re comfortable with? Many firms have an “always-on” culture, wherein they expect employees to work as long as it takes to get a job done, as often as needed, or expect them to answer emails at all hours of the day and night, even on weekends and holidays. Unfortunately, this culture can lead employees to experience a lot of stress and burnout and limit the company’s overall productivity.
Set boundaries with your employer or manager by communicating when you’re available and when you’re not. Then, really make an effort to stick to those boundaries.
2. Physical work boundaries
Another effective way you can create boundaries around your working time and personal time? Set up physical boundaries.
If your team works exclusively from the office, then keep your work at the office if you’re in a position where you’re able to do so. Don’t bring it home with you. If you’re a part of a hybrid or remote team, do your best to keep your work life at home separate from your personal life. Find a spot where you can work in full productivity mode during working hours, such as a home office, and leave that room when work is over.
If you don’t have a room for a dedicated workspace at home, consider how you can set other physical boundaries around your working time. Maybe join a coworking space and only work while you’re there or do the same at your local coffee shop or a nearby library.
3. Work relationship boundaries
Lastly, make relationship boundaries a part of your overall work boundaries.
Always remain professional with coworkers and don’t overshare. You should keep your work relationships separate from your personal life.
Unfortunately, relationship boundaries can often be harder to maintain when you’re working remotely, as remote environments typically allow people to let their guards down and perhaps behave less formally than they might in an office setting.
Consider these statistics from one study on remote work:
- 25% of employees reported experiencing more gender-based harassment when working remotely
- 23% of employees over age 50 reported an increase in age-based harassment
- 10% reported an uptick in race or ethnicity-based harassment
Be aware of what it looks like when team members or managers cross relationship boundaries whether in a remote workplace or in person. This might look like inappropriate comments, insults at meetings, sharing of unsuitable media, offensive jokes, or even cyberstalking. If you notice instances of this type of behavior, make sure to get in touch with your company’s HR department.
The Bottom Line
While it may seem challenging, setting healthy work boundaries is key to your overall job satisfaction, productivity, and mental health. If you’re struggling to set boundaries, an Arootah coach can support you with personalized strategies. Learn how to break through barriers, feel empowered, and improve your productivity and performance at work by scheduling a free consultation today.