The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it innumerable challenges from both a business and personal perspective for pretty much everyone and while we could get into many of them, let’s stick to the topic at hand: working from home and setting boundaries. Accountingfly is a fully remote company so we’re used to working from literally anywhere as long as there’s WiFi but this “new normal” has required some adjustment even from us seasoned vets as we figure out how to share space with our spouses, manage kids who are not in school, and even schedule video chats around a colleague’s sniffles (yikes!).
It’s new territory for many, that’s for sure. It’s been impressive to see how many businesses were able to jump into action and institute work-from-home policies but what about folks like you who are new to this whole thing? Lucky for you, we’ve got some tips gleaned from our collective decades of experience with this whole work-from-home thing and how to set realistic boundaries.
Segregate your space
This is a big one. If you already had an office or even office-like space at home prior to this whole mess, you’re already a step ahead. From what we’ve seen, many accountants used to billing their hours at the office have tried to create home office space on the fly using whatever they’ve got on hand to prop up the company laptop. And that’s totally fine (also a great use for those old TV trays you probably haven’t used in forever). The important thing is to try and create a defined space for work and let the rest of your home be for, well, home. There’s a reason sleep experts are always saying “the bedroom is for sleeping,” it’s because bringing work into your bedroom dissolves the association your brain (hopefully) has that tells it bedroom = sleep.
Back in the “before time” you were able to better separate work and home because they were two distinct places, so it’s more important than ever to define those spaces, just within your own home. Can you work on the couch with your laptop sometimes? Sure, some of us do. Just try not to make a habit of it, you’ll thank us later when you realize it’s easier to “turn off” work when you segregate your space, even if the spaces are within mere feet of each other.
Following up on the last point about segregating spaces, it’s just as important to segregate your time and energy to the extent you can. We realize this can be a tough one even during normal times much less during a global pandemic when clients still need work done regardless of what the news is talking about. This tip is more of a strong suggestion than a deal-breaker, adapt it in whatever way works for you – but set boundaries.
When you work from home, it’s really easy to drift from thing-to-thing and next thing you know it’s 8 p.m. and you’re still “working” yet have a ton to do because you lacked focus. Treat working from home the same way you treated working at the office and set times when you’re “clocked in” and times you’re off. Of course, if you’re the type to be glued to your device answering emails all hours of the day and night then, by all means, do what you have to do. But for everyone else, don’t feel compelled to always be on just because you’re now suddenly “at the office” for 24 hours a day every day.
Just because you are always accessible thanks to your smartphone doesn’t mean you should always be available. Teams should be working together to define available hours and clear boundaries where it’s appropriate to expect a response. Set clear work expectations of when team members should be available and when they are not required so they can take care of the balancing act at home.
Stick to a routine
Remember waaaaaaay back in the day when you got up early, showered, maybe ate breakfast, jumped in the car, and drove to your office for a day of work? As in only a few weeks ago? Yeah, so you should still be doing that, at least sort of.
As tempting as it is to say “well, I no longer have to commute and no one is going to see me so I might as well use the time I would waste doing that and sleep in,” you should aim to stick to your old routine as much as possible. Shower. Have breakfast. Get dressed. No one is saying you have to put on the suit you’d wear if you were meeting clients but at a minimum aim for a verrrrry casual Casual Friday. Again, we’re experts in this area so we don’t suggest this lightly. This will make a huge difference in your state of mind, especially over the long term.
What remote hacks are working for you? What boundaries have you set? What are you doing that’s working for you and your team? Let us know on social.