I’m writing this letter on a domestic flight feeling grateful for the two hours I have without Wi-Fi or cell signal.
It means no Facebook notifications or messages from friends who’ve finished work for the day and just want to chat, no unexpected interruptions from clients with urgent demands that can actually wait until tomorrow, and no calls from mum ‘just checking in’.
Of course when I get home, to my office, all that will be there waiting for me. Along with the neighbour’s leaf blower and the barking dog next door.
But in this moment, it’s bliss.
I can get my work done without distractions. I can focus 100% on the task at hand without feeling guilty for ‘not being there’ for everyone who wants a piece of my time, right now.
When we work from home, people soon begin to realise we are generally always home. And many people misinterpret always being at home as always being available. Of course, that’s not the case.
Perhaps you’re reading this as a fellow work-from-home professional struggling to define the blurred lines between work and home.
Or perhaps you’ve got a work-from-home professional in your life, a friend, partner, colleague, client or supplier, and you’d like an insight into their life, their work, and what it means to work from home.
Whatever the case – there has to be boundaries, and they have to be respected. It’s common for remote workers and anyone who works remotely to work outside of usual business hours. And that’s fine. But it’s important to have an off button. Ideally, an organised remote worker will set routine work hours, and stick to them. This allows you to schedule time for personal and social commitments. By sharing these hours with your employer, clients, friends and family, they know when you’re available, and when you’re not. If anyone needs a reminder, a simple email or text message with your available times should help.
Boundaries are also important when children and partners are concerned, but a little more flexibility usually comes into play. As a work from home parent, you can’t realistically expect little ones to want you only during your free time. But by getting into good habits early on in your remote career, you can begin to establish a routine that works for everyone, at least most days. Just be sure to leave extra time for the unexpected.
Work-from-home professionals with a partner in a traditional work setting also need to discuss home duties and decide early on who does what. These responsibilities can be a tricky area for some couples to navigate, as a partner working outside the home might assume the spouse staying at home can also do the cooking, cleaning, washing up, laundry, ironing, picking up the kids, walking the dog…. you get the picture.
Ultimately, working from home is still working – and whether you work in a corporate building, a home office or your local café, your work is important, and needs to be respected. By putting in these few simple boundaries, you can ensure it will be.
Keep up the great work!