Workplace Boundaries: Building a Balanced Life

3 mins | Travis O'Rourke | Article |

A man on a desk looks down on report pages with his hands holding his head, overwhelmed. On the desk sits a laptop and a cup of coffee.

Workplace Boundaries: Building a Balanced Life

To achieve a good work-life balance, it's important to set boundaries at work. The concept of work-life balance is a global phenomenon, dating back through history, and continues to shape the modern workforce.

Remote work during the pandemic has brought relief but also blurred the boundaries between work and personal life for many. As we navigate this evolving landscape, setting clear boundaries at work has emerged as a vital strategy to safeguard our well-being, foster effective communication, and prevent burnout.

Let's check how you can create and maintain these crucial boundaries in your professional life to achieve a more harmonious work-life equilibrium.

Disconnecting from work has become an even more challenging endeavor. In the past, employees could leave their workstations in the office, exit the premises, and embark on their evening commute, leaving work-related thoughts behind until the next day. Now, with work just a click away, an unsettling "always-on" sensation pervades the workforce, as revealed in Microsoft's 2022 Future of Work report.

Setting boundaries at work is becoming more important for finding a balance between work and personal life. Boundaries are limits and rules people set to have good relationships and protect their well-being.

Clear boundaries in the workplace not only facilitate effective communication but also act as a buffer against burnout. In some countries, governments have intervened on behalf of employees, enacting laws that prohibit managers from contacting their subordinates outside of regular working hours, as seen in France, Belgium, Portugal, and other European nations.

Taking charge of your workload begins with the establishment of boundaries that offer immediate and long-term benefits. Additionally, it's essential to explore strategies for maintaining your well-being while working remotely.

Engage in a constructive dialogue with your manager

Initiating a conversation with your supervisor is the first step. If you find yourself overwhelmed with work beyond what you consider reasonable, it's crucial to ensure that your manager comprehends the challenges you face and how they impact on you. Quantify the additional hours and inconveniences required to complete tasks and propose potential solutions.

Collaborate with your manager to identify top-priority tasks and the team members with whom you need to communicate to recalibrate expectations. This dialogue is crucial since unhealthy work boundaries can develop inadvertently, as individuals consistently say yes to requests and quickly complete tasks, earning a reputation for being exceptionally productive. However, this can lead to unmanageable expectations over time.

Prioritize your tasks

Rather than treating every new task as the top priority, internal communication regarding task urgency can help streamline priorities and manage expectations. Simply inquire about the urgency of tasks and trust your colleagues to provide honest responses, allowing you to structure your day effectively.

Engage with relevant stakeholders to establish clear communication channels and schedules that align with your workflow, thereby redefining the team's expectations of you.

Time for focused work

Creating dedicated time for focused work, free from interruptions caused by notifications, is a fundamental aspect of setting work boundaries. This can be as straightforward as scheduling blocks of uninterrupted work time on your calendar. Additionally, consider discussing and defining how you prefer to receive requests and inquiries from colleagues. By establishing expectations regarding communication channels, you can reduce the influx of constant requests from multiple sources.

Setting expectations

If it's not a prerequisite for your role, take the initiative to set clear boundaries, such as refraining from working on weekends or late at night, and communicate these boundaries to your colleagues. Reassure your team of your unwavering commitment to collective goals while explaining that work should be confined within specific timeframes.

New workplace? This is how you can set some boundaries

What if you're entering a new job? How can you communicate your boundaries without appearing uncommitted or misaligned with the organization's expectations?

It's essential to commence by thoroughly reviewing the job description to gain a precise understanding of the role's responsibilities. At the interview stage, you can seek clarification on the role's specifics and inquire about work-life balance considerations within the organization. Remember that interviews provide an opportunity to ask questions and leave no uncertainty unaddressed.

If you are looking for a job opportunity that fits with your work-life balance, visit our career opportunities here.

Preserving Ambition, it is fine to set boundaries

Setting boundaries does not mean an abandonment of ambition; rather, it involves directing your ambition effectively. Focus on projects and activities that intrinsically motivate you, rather than solely pursuing extrinsic rewards like promotions or salary increases. While these rewards are essential, shifting your focus to personally fulfilling endeavors can invigorate your ambition and promote personal growth.  

Establishing boundaries in the workplace should not be construed as a lack of passion or dedication. Instead, it is a strategy to deliver your best work over the long term, benefiting both you and your organization.



About this author

Travis O'Rourke
President of Hays Canada & CCO, Hays Americas

Travis is a Marketing graduate from Fanshawe College and was the 2023 recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award. He joined Hays after holding various leadership roles elsewhere in the Canadian staffing industry. Travis setup and established Hays' outsourced talent solutions business and played an integral role in building Hays’ temporary and contract divisions throughout Canada. Initially joining Hays with a deep background in Technology, he holds extensive cross functional knowledge to provide clients with talent solutions in Financial Services, Energy, Mining, Manufacturing, Retail, and the Public Sector.

articleId- 63155335, groupId- 63230