These Strategies Will Help You End the Workday When You Work From Home

Setting boundaries around your working hours is more important now than ever before. Here’s how to do it.

Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

Beyond the obvious perks of working from home, like greater flexibility and a boost in productivity, there is a uniquely difficult challenge some of us are coping with for the first time: marking the end of the workday. During these uncertain times, our kitchens, living rooms, and otherwise personal spaces have become a makeshift workplace. When we can’t shut our laptops, say goodnight and physically leave the office, our job responsibilities have a way of creeping into after hours, making it harder than ever to set boundaries between our work and the rest of our life. 

If you’re struggling to unplug at the end of your workday, you’re not alone. Nearly 70 percent of people feel less able to disconnect from technology as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Thrive Global survey of 5,000 respondents to gauge pain points related to the pandemic. A study published in Group & Organization Management offers some insight on why setting boundaries as a remote worker is just so hard; not only are remote employees overworked, there’s a built-in tension between their jobs and their home life. In other words, spending more time in the home or family domain causes an increase in work conflict, and vice versa. 

As we adjust to the new normal of working from home, finding a way to integrate all aspects of our lives and set limits around working hours is crucial to our well-being. You can start by implementing some strategies that will make the end of your workday clear — both to yourself and your coworkers. These Microsteps will help you set an endtime and stick to it.

Microstep
Take five minutes to create a daily schedule for you and anyone else staying home with you, and put it where everyone can see it.
Sticking to a schedule helps you stay on task and focus, and the same is true for your children or other family members who are staying home. It will also give everyone clarity on when others need their space, like for a meeting or call, and when everyone will unplug for the night.

Choose a WFH well-being buddy. 

When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your core team. Ask someone you get along with to be your buddy while you’re working remotely. You can check in with each other daily and ask that you hold each other accountable to signing off at a specific time.

When you’re feeling lonely, schedule a virtual coffee break with a friend. 

Social isolation can have powerful negative effects on your health, but spending time with others – even virtually – helps you stay connected. On days when you’re feeling particularly lonely, plan to end your day with a quick video call with a coworker or friend. There’s no better way to end a long day than catching up with someone you care about. 

When you’re nearing the end of your workday, send a message to your team on email or chat.

Maybe it’s a simple “goodnight,” a “thank you” for the hard work, or a last-call for questions before you sign off. Letting your team know you’re done for the day will hold you accountable to your own boundaries and help others respect them. Plus, this simple gesture will help everyone feel connected, almost as if you were saying goodbye as you leave the office. 

At the end of every day, take a minute to think about what you accomplished today. If you’re not used to working on your own, it can be more challenging to notice your progress. Use this time to celebrate your small wins. Adding this ritual to the end of your day will act as a signal that it’s also just about time to sign off. 

Make a point of logging off from your remote work at the same time you would typically leave the office. 

It’s easy to let your workday bleed longer when you don’t have your usual commute home, but it’s important to build in time at night to rest and recharge so you can work sustainably.

Working From Home in the New Normal is a data-driven storytelling initiative from SAP and Thrive Global, bringing together insights powered by the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse with actionable Microsteps and stories from Thrive to help you navigate working from home. Visit daily for the latest data and stories to help improve your focus, prioritization, and well-being.

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