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Setting Workplace Boundaries That Promote Productivity

CoAdvantage -Maintaining healthy workplace boundaries is key to productivity. They serve as safeguards against threats that would encroach on a person’s time, energy, and willpower and prevent or slow them from successfully completing their work. In turn, healthy boundaries can ensure that employees stay energized and have the capacity to focus and get work done with minimal stress.

Boundaries can be more complicated than just setting a firm limit on how much work employees can or should do from home, however. In fact, there are multiple kinds of boundaries, and often employers will recognize some while trespassing others.

Time Boundaries

Employees should only be expected to work during specific hours. That timeframe should be realistic and reasonable, even if non-traditional, however. If employees need to be accessible at other times, there should be some rules or processes that govern when, where, and how employers contact their employees.

Note that the problem can also be the employee failing to respect work boundaries. A good example is checking work email or engaging in similar tasks at home. In some cases, this can even make employers liable for overtime for the time worked. Workplace policies should dictate when employees should and shouldn’t work on business tasks.

Access Boundaries

Just as employers and employees should only expect to be working during specific, agreed-upon hours, each should be able to define where and how they can be accessed. This has a couple of dimensions. For one thing, the employer should only try to reach the employee through prescribed channels, like email or a Slack channel. Calling a home number, for example, might be deemed off limits except in cases of emergency.

There should also be rules or processes to govern when an employee can go “offline,” i.e., make themselves inaccessible so they can focus on an important project. Then, there should be some agreed upon rules governing how to handle situations when the employee is not accessible, e.g., when they go on vacation, what rules will govern when, if, and how they can be contacted.

Space Boundaries

How to arrange a physical workspace can be a consequential decision. In general, it’s a good idea to make sure employees have access to dedicated workspace that is sufficient to meet the demands of their work duties. To prevent interruption and distraction in the middle of focused work, the workspace should also include some means of communicating that the person should not be disturbed, like a sign or closed door, and those indicators should be respected.

Process Boundaries

This refers to how employees get their work done. It refers to workflows, patterns, habits, and preferences that allow employees to work in a way that works for them. In the name of goals like process standardization and efficiency optimization, it can be very tempting for employers to try to dictate how employees work, but different employees have different styles and needs. Some process guidelines or rules are fine, but don’t micromanage. Give your employees room to have their own patterns and habits and allow there to be a boundary around those processes that the company and supervisors will respect.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.