The following tips are for sudden remote working boundaries from our Covid-19 working parents’ survival guide: How to Work from Home with Kids: A Guide to Keeping Your Sanity during Uncertain Times.
Being in close confinement when suddenly working from home can be hard. Luckily, we can take comfort in the fact that virtually everybody is working with family members and distractions. This means employers must become flexible and acknowledge your family life. In a year like none before, these are our very best tips for creating the boundaries you need to do both work + live (at the exact same time).
family Boundaries for remote working
rules for entering your Home office
⬢ Teach household members when it’s okay to enter your office space and define “emergency” (i.e. YouTube help, not an emergency; bleeding profusely, is).
⬢ If you work in a shared office, a baby gate can keep little hands away from important documents and equipment.
⬢ Establish family rules:
- Establish that a closed-door means “meeting in progress.” Consider a “STOP! In a meeting” sign. Remind your partner with a text and silence your phone.
- Enforce a “knock before entering” rule.
Use a computer versus phone to indicate work
⬢ Cell phones can be a confusing signal for little ones. Offloading from a phone to a computer will help show them you are “at work.”
set work hours around sleep schedules
⬢ Create a work schedule around young children’s sleep schedules and move their bedtime back for your work time. Staggering wake-up times with your partner can help.
work Boundaries for remote working
over-communicate and be transparent
⬢ Over-communicate – Be transparent about your “working hours” and needs with your manager and team, and stick to them. Consider putting your working hours in your email signature. Do not feel like you need to apologize for alternative working hours during this time.
Silver Lining: Set up “office hours” and have fun time with your kids. Your flex perk!
consider your remote team’s work hours
⬢ Ask for your team’s work hours & keep them visible. There’ll be conflicting hours outside of 9-to-5 due to children of varying ages. Respect your coworkers’ work hours so they respect yours.
practice radical boundary-care when working remotely
⬢ Practice radical boundary-care! One of the little-known drawbacks of remote working is that it can actually cause people to work more for the perceived perk. Don’t let remote work mean you work round-the-clock. To prevent this. check out this Work-From-Home Survival Kit and these tips:
- Create working hours and stick to them, but be flexible and transparent with your employer and team should they need to change.
- Power-up & power down your laptop and log into email and other online work tools to signal when you’re working.
- Treat your time working from home just like you’re in the office & don’t work on the weekend.
- Create a personal life routine. Put on leisurewear (aka yoga pants!) at the end of the day to signal to your mind that you’ve left work.
- Take breaks and get out of your house between completing tasks.
Commit to a Morning Routine and End of Day Shut Down
⬢ It’s easy to get distracted by news, family, and our emotions, but creating rituals to get your workday started and to wind it down will help you be productive.
- Morning Routine – After your Morning Ritual, sit down at your desk to begin work starting with the three things you want to accomplish for the day.
- End of Day Shut Down – Take 10-15 minutes to close Slack open loops and conversations, check off what you’ve done in your project management software and make decisions about moving items, and check email.
Pick three things you want to accomplish the next day. You might not get to all three daily, but writing it down makes a difference! Similarly, pick three big things you want to accomplish each week.
Take frequent brain breaks to reset
⬢ If you’ve never worked from home, this is a must. Try the Pomodoro Method and use breaks for time with your family.
remove outside distractions
⬢ Use noise-canceling headphones, noise machines, or an ambient noise app.
⬢ Utilize the “Do Not Disturb” button on your computer, phone, and communication platforms. Give yourself a set amount of time to work on a project, mute distractions, and dive in. Then, take a break to recharge.
don’t multi-task when remote working
⬢ Focus on one task at one time versus context switching (For example: Throwing in a load of laundry, answering a work email, doing a few minutes of work then checking social media). You get the point! Context switching will leave you behind and unfocused.
keep your workspace sacred
⬢ Do not eat at your desk – Leave your workspace to eat lunch and connect with your family.
work when the kids nap
⬢ Work when kids nap – If you’ve got little ones, take advantage of working when they nap and consider moving bedtime back for focused work. Office baby monitors are your best friend.
More tips & tricks!
⬢ Finally, check out these tips and tricks from seasoned pros.
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