Whether you’re working remotely or spending your workdays within the four walls of an office, finding a healthy balance between you and your coworkers or boss is essential to your mental health and well-being in the workplace. Making friends at work is a rewarding and fun experience, but there is often a fine line between keeping it professional and making it personal.
The truth is, we all crave connection with other humans, and since we spend the majority of our weekdays interacting with our workmates, it makes total sense that we get to know them beyond Google Docs and Zoom meetings. To help us gain a better understanding of how to set healthy boundaries while still embracing the best your workplace culture has to offer, we spoke with Julie Whish, Culture Specialist & Happiness Enthusiast at Uberflip.
First, understand why it’s important to set boundaries
As an example, Whish explains, “We always want to do our best and ensure we’re getting all our work done, especially with the new reality of working most of the time remotely. Many folks don’t have the perfect setup at home but are making things work with what they’ve got. Working from home can be great for a lot of reasons, but setting boundaries and having a work-life balance can be a lot more challenging when there isn’t a physical separation of your space. To make sure you’re giving yourself time away from work to relax, recharge and accomplish personal things, you need to be adamant about setting boundaries and sticking with them.”
Know when it’s time to set a boundary
Set expectations during the interview process
“Don’t be afraid to ask more about the expectations when it comes to hours and work from home policies. You want to go in with a good idea of what things will look like for you, and without having these conversations, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised with the culture once you join. Pay attention to who is interviewing you and if they talk about putting employees first, mental health, and also setting a good work-life balance.”
Boundaries with colleagues are different from setting boundaries with friends
Find the right way to frame the conversation
Communicate boundaries with the support of office apps
“You can set your apps such as Google Calendar and Slack to deny meetings and messages during times outside regular office hours. You can choose to communicate this to your coworkers or if you don’t feel comfortable, let them figure it out by getting these notifications. If you can’t find a time to bring this up, you can use a team meeting to casually mention it and open up the conversation so that other folks may also want to share how they prefer to work and communicate. If something like this doesn’t feel natural, I suggest including something in an engagement survey or going to your People & Culture team to ask for advice or insights on how to approach this.” explains Whish.
Get comfortable with saying “no” or offering solutions that still protect your time
“Oftentimes we have so much on our plates and feel overwhelmed, but we naturally take on new projects because we feel like we have to. It’s better to speak up early and be realistic about your workload and assure your colleague or manager that you want things done in a way that is up to the company’s standard and you don’t feel you have the capacity to take something else on at this time. Don’t be afraid to offer up suggestions or advice on how something can get done right and in a timely manner involving you.” suggests Whish.