Tips to Keep Out of Office, Out of Office
Creating a healthy work/life balance has become more difficult with the rise of flexible working, remote working, and the ability to reach anyone online, anytime. Whether your out of office means checking out for the day or going away on holiday, it's vital to separate work and home life to stave off burnout. We explore some top tips for making sure your out of office message is respected.
Communicate Your Values
Off the bat. When you're new it can feel especially difficult to be candid about what you expect from your workplace - even as you're told what's expected of you - but it can be difficult to establish boundaries if you've been somewhere for years too. Setting up time with your manager to let them know how and when you work best (including when you can and can't be contacted) sets the precedent that you'll be a great employee, as long as they're a great employer in return.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. If we start work at a different time every day, and leave at a different time every day, we set the expectation that there is no 'good time' to get in contact - opening up the door to all kinds of silly hours being asked of us. Utilise your calendar to make sure you let people know when you have lunch, when you stop work, and when you can and can't be reached.
Create Technological Boundaries
Our laptops and phones are often the source of boundary crossing, but making sure you set quiet hours, turn off notifications, remove work communications from your personal devices, and switch off when you're supposed to switch off gives your brains some breathing space from the 'always on' culture.
Learn How To Say No
Many of us - especially women in the workplace - have been asked to take on more extra-curricular than we would like. Whether it's organising the office party, booking or ordering lunch, or other admin outside of your role, learning to say no can be tough but vitally important to respecting your boundaries and role within the company. It's also important to say no to things within your remit - sometimes there is just too much on a plate to make it all work well, and being honest about it can be a weight off your shoulders.
Ask For Respect
There might always be a colleague or manager who - regardless of your OOO and quiet hours - continues to message you about work. Demanding respect by making it clear - politely, but firmly - that your personal life is just as important than your work life can be like a lightbulb moment in the less self-aware colleague emailing you on weekends.
Take Time Off
Perhaps the most important ingredient to avoiding burnout, taking time to look after yourself, indulge in the things you love, and maybe even go abroad can be the key to a healthy, happy brain. Making sure that all the above points are employed ensures your time off work is respected fully, so disengage with your devices, make it clear the boundaries you want respected, and once you're away, appreciate the burst of the work bubble that allows you to enjoy the whole wide world outside of it.
Some workplaces just aren't great at respecting out of office hours, in the short or long term. If speaking to your manager, and setting out of office messages doesn't give some people the hint, have a word with HR for advice on how boundaries can be promoted in company culture.