Top tips: setting boundaries for working from home

Door Jan Roekens | 30-06-2020

Het MRS Flex Forum waarbij de Britse research professionals zich aangesloten hebben, ondersteunt haar leden met handige tips & tools voor thuiswerken in corona-tijd.

By Sinead Jefferies, Strategic Insight Consultant and MRS Board Member and Susanne Lindner, Director, Customer Success – Global Key Accounts at Lucid

Find your own routine and designated space. Find a way to still have the distinction between work days and weekends. Things like getting up at a certain time, having a shower and getting dressed and taking your lunch break help. Many people find that going out of the house first thing for a walk around the block or to buy a takeaway coffee can act as that bridge between home and work. You come back in the door ready to start the working day. If possible, create a designated area for your work in your home so you still can leave the office at the end of the day.

At the same time, reconsider where you have your meetings. Do they have to be in front of your computer or if you don’t have to present, can you do a “walk and talk” or simply be somewhere else in your home? Try to give yourself a break from your desk to stretch your legs. After all, you would have walked in the office every now and then too.

Keep an eye on how many hours a day you really work. Working from home can be a blessing and a curse as it offers you great flexibility to organise your work around your schedule. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be available 24/7. Think about what the working day looks like for you, whether that’s a full eight hours (or more) in a stretch or blocks of time to fit in around other commitments. If you can’t resist the temptation to keep checking in, then make sure that your notifications (email and internal chat platforms) stop after your working hours end. Check if your calendar signals to your colleagues if a meeting would be out of your office hours.

Communicate your working hours to your colleagues and clients. Especially if you are working slightly different hours, letting your team know which hours you will be available will help set expectations. If you are working later in the day, this will help them as well to understand that you do not expect them to answer any emails when it is their afterhours. Use an out of office notification or your email footer to alert people to the hours you are working and help manage expectations. And don’t shy away from switching the out of office notification on at the end of your workday, particularly for those who find that starting early in the morning and finishing mid/late afternoon is a pattern that works best for you.

Have a clear guideline on flexible hours for your team/the company. Make sure everyone knows that colleagues might work different hours than they normally would in an office setting and that this is something the company supports 100%. This will help and empower team members to find and ask for hours that work better with their own rhythms. After all, not everyone is an early bird.

Having a concept of core business hours where everyone needs to be available will help internally and externally.

Think about the communications tools you are using. As an employer or manager, make sure that the tools you are using to keep everyone engaged and in contact allow people to put boundaries in place when they need to. Although a lot of people are finding WhatsApp a helpful tool for more informal chatting, think about the fact that having work chat integrated with people’s conversations with friends and families makes it harder for them to switch off out of hours. Perhaps think about using other chat or messaging tools instead that allow people to separate those personal and work conversations.

Source: MRS, 18 June, 2020

Auteur: Jan Roekens, Hoofdredacteur

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