How Can I Switch Off When Working From Home?
Dear Someone Else’s Dad,
My team seems to be managing well with all of us working from home, but I’m finding it a bit hard to set boundaries about when I’m available and unavailable. Is it now expected that I should be online all the time since we’re all at home on lockdown? I think the problem relates to our not “leaving for the day” since our computers and phones are always on. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy my work, it’s just that I worry that we’ll all burn out since it’s so easy for us to connect and respond. Any advice? Thanks, Almost At The Edge
I’m glad to hear that you and your team are doing well during this trying time. As a longtime consultant with a home office, I still haven’t quite mastered when to “leave work” at the end of the day and commute “home” to the next room. But I have mastered a bit more how to give myself some “I-won’t-respond-to-that-email-even-though-it-might-be-an-important-client-email” off time.
Since your team is in uncharted, all working from home waters, I recommend making some suggestions and coming up with work guidelines now; otherwise, you may find that your computer will follow you to the kitchen, dining table, couch, bedroom, and bathroom. (Hey, you’re welcome to do that last one, just make sure your Zoom camera and mic are off.)
Try to define “normal” work hours for all (keeping in mind different time zones), knowing that these hours will never fully be set in stone.
If you share calendars, block out times that you need for personal reasons (none of which you have to explain).
Decide which type of alerts (text, email, call, Slack) are appropriate for certain tasks, and which messages need immediate response, even at 3 AM your time (and I hope you don’t have many of those).
As much as we all hope our lockdown will end soon, you may find that setting some guidelines now will help you when we get back to a new normal.
Stay well and safe, SED