How To Set Better Boundaries In The Workplace

Whether you’re employed, self-employed, work from home or in a corporate office, we can all benefit from creating better boundaries in the workplace to create a better work / life balance. We’re sharing 8 tips to help you on your way.

Setting boundaries in the workplace key to maintaining a healthy work / life balance so you don’t feel overwhelmed in either place. It’s also important to set boundaries at work so you feel comfortable with your workload, communicating with your colleagues and understanding what is expected of you.

In our guide below about how to set better boundaries in the workplace, we’ve put together our top tips for setting boundaries for yourself, with your colleagues, with your boss and even when you’re working from home.

How to set better boundaries in the workplace

Establish your priorities

The first step to setting healthy workplace boundaries is to establish your priorities at work and at home.

In the workplace, you may need to discuss your priorities with your supervisor to determine what is expected of you so you can establish your role and work out which areas of your job you might need to compromise on, as well as areas that cannot be compromised.

When it comes to determining your home life priorities, you need to consider factors such as childcare, annual leave, overtime, whether you can enjoy a work-from-home / office hybrid way of working and more.

Encourage healthy levels of communication

Communication is the fundamental factor of any healthy relationship, whether it be in the workplace, with family or with a partner.

Therefore, it’s super important to encourage healthy levels of communication within your place of work in order to express your feelings, ideas and concerns, as well as to effectively communicate your boundaries with your colleagues and superiors so they know what they can expect from you. It’s easier said than done but if you’re not happy about something, speak up girl.

Manage expectations of clients and colleagues

If a new task lands in your inbox with an unrealistic deadline, now is the time manage expectations. It is far more professional to politely push back and suggest a new and more realistic deadline that you know can deliver on, rather than agree to their initial suggestion and feel stretched or stressed out by it.

If you don’t manage expectations, chances are you will fail to meet their request, resulting in a false sense of underperformance. Instead, let them know their request is important to you and due to your current workload, you’ll endeavour to complete the task by a specific date.

Don’t be afraid to delegate

It’s a good idea to be aware of when it’s appropriate to delegate tasks if necessary to help set better boundaries in the workplace.

If you’re unable to make time for a particular task or you’re feeling overwhelmed with your current workload, it’s essential to be aware of how to delegate certain things to relieve your situation.

In some cases, it might be necessary to check with your superior or your boss before you start handing out various tasks to your fellow employees, but knowing when it’s the right time to find another person for a particular task is a crucial part of establishing workplace boundaries.

Create a schedule that works for you

Everyone has different methods of creating a schedule that works for them, but the important thing is that you do create an effective schedule that enables you to organise your work and prioritise daily/weekly/monthly tasks. What is most time sensitive? What can wait? What is a priority and what is a bonus?

One particular boundary that you might want to establish in the workplace is only responding to emails within your contracted work hours. If your boss expects you to be online and available for calls and emails at all hours of the day, this can soon lead to burnout and resentment towards your employer, so managing their expectations and creating a schedule that works for both you and the business is super important.

If you’re self-employed or working from home, why not set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself it’s time to stop working? It’s easy to get bogged down in tasks and when there’s nobody around to tell you to call it a day. If a large amount of your work is on your phone e.g. emails, social media, content creation, why not decide to put your phone in another room for the evening so you’re not tempted to start working again?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice

One thing many people fear, especially in the workplace, is looking weak or seeming like you don’t know how to do something. Therefore, many people struggle along until they feel so overwhelmed and fed up with their job, instead of simply asking for help or advice.

When it comes to setting boundaries at work, don’t think that you have to take every single task on yourself; remember to ask for help and advice if you need it. Chances are, someone at your place of work has been in your shoes before and knows how difficult some things can be. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you care about your job and you want to do the best thing for yourself and for the company.

Understand your job role and what is expected of you

This applies more for those in employment and should be one of the first things you do when you get a new job. It’s also important to refer back to your job description throughout the course of your employment with a company.

Understanding your job role and exactly what is expected of you is imperative to ensure that you’re not taking on more than you’re contracted to. Some companies can take advantage of their workers by giving them tasks above their pay grade and if you feel like this is the case, you should communicate your concerns with your boss.

Knowing what is expected of you and the tasks that you should be completing on a daily basis will also help you to manage your workload and avoid burnout.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Saying no in the workplace can be a tricky thing to approach as you don’t want to appear rude or disrespectful, especially if you’re saying no to something your boss has asked of you.

Of course, you can’t just go around saying no to things simply because you don’t feel like doing a particular task, but there are instances where saying no in the workplace is entirely appropriate.

For example, if someone asks you to attend a meeting during your lunch hour or if a colleague asks you to take on more of their work than you can manage, it’s crucial that you understand when to say no, and more importantly, how to say no in a respectful manner.

Establish your physical boundaries

We’ve discussed many of the professional boundaries that can be set in the workplace, but it’s also a good idea to consider the physical boundaries that you can put in place as well.

These boundaries establish rules around what you will accept from your colleagues in a physical sense. This includes things like opting for a handshake instead of a hug, eating lunch on your own away from your colleagues when you feel like you need some space and wearing headphones or asking people to keep the noise down when you’re on an important call.

Physical boundaries in the workplace can also relate to your level of tolerance for “workplace banter” and what you’re willing to accept when it comes to “friendly” comments. Just because one person might find something funny, doesn’t mean that you do too and if something makes you feel uncomfortable, you should communicate your feelings so that it doesn’t happen again.

Read more posts like this in our career category.

Chloe is a published author and the full-time traveller, digital nomad and freelance writer behind imjustagirl16.co.uk. She's travelled to nearly 50 countries, covering destinations such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Croatia, the USA and many more. Her favourite city in the world is New York and has recently written the book; Date Night: New York City: 50 Creative, Budget-Friendly Dates for the City that Never Sleeps.

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