Embracing Healthy Work Boundaries: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

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Facebook made headlines once again, and it was not due to another layout change. Apparently, the company’s second-in-command, COO Sheryl Sandberg, leaves work every day at 5:30 p.m. so she’s home for dinner with her kids.

If you’re wondering why this has any sort of significance, think about all the advancements in technology. Thanks to our lovely laptops, smart phones, iPads, etc., we can take work anywhere we go, which is both a blessing and curse.

However, Sandberg points out that she not only leaves work when the sun is still shining, she actually spends time with her family once she’s home. In other words, she embraces healthy work boundaries.

While this is somewhat of a novel approach in today’s work environment, it shouldn’t be.

Employees will follow your lead

According to a 2010 report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, there is strong connection between flexibility and productivity, which can help reduce turnover and absenteeism, and provide higher morale and company commitment.

As the manager or executive of your company, you deal with seemingly nonstop responsibilities on a day-to-day basis, but you still need to make sure to have some sort of work-life balance. And remember, employees follow your lead, and if you’re staying at the office from 8-8 with no breaks every work day, your employees will (involuntarily) follow suit.

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I, myself, have been guilty of sending emails at 11 p.m. and staying at the office until, well, it was pretty late into the night. I have to constantly remind myself about work boundaries so my family remembers what I look like.

Three things to remember

I’m not perfect about it and I’m sure neither are you, but here are some points to remember to give ourselves a bit more balance.

  • Look into your time management. It always goes back to time management, doesn’t it? Still, if you think leaving at a decent hour is not feasible, you should look into your time management skills. Are you prioritizing what deserves immediate action, and what can be delayed? Make sure you focus your time and energy on the tasks that matter, and you’re not being pulled off course on every tiny work activity. Try tracking your time for one week to see how you spend it; this might help put your time management in better perspective.
  • Take a break. As you are reading this article, ask yourself  — when was the last time you got up and moved around? We are all guilty of being tied to our desks so much that we don’t even take a break to go to lunch. Make sure you take breaks throughout the day. Research shows that regular walking can help increase your focus.
  • Work from home. We live in an era where working from home can be extremely productive. I actually work from home once a week and I’ve noticed it has helped me tremendously with achieving balance. It also allows me to get more done without the distractions of the office. If you’re able to work efficiently at home, I highly recommend you work-at-home at least once a week.

Like it or not, achieving work-life balance is a journey, and it might be hard to ever find the true destination. But if you work on flexibility, you might make that journey a little easier.

Derek Murphy is CEO of TruScore , an assessment company with over 4 decades of experience in 360 degree feedback and assessment customization. TruScore offers a fully managed solution, where their team of experts serve as an extension of your internal team, and where their success is tied to yours. Contact him at dmurphy@truscore.com .