3 Tips to Set Meaningful Boundaries in the Today’s Workplace

As the pandemic situation continues to change, businesses are starting to bring their employees back into the workplace — whether it be fully back in the office, an alternating schedule, or hybrid working (half from home, half in office). Individuals who are returning to their work routine from 2019 are finding that they feel out of place and what used to be their ‘normal’ routine isn’t so ‘normal’ anymore. 

After nearly two years of being home, we as organizational leaders must recognize that employees respond to change differently. The feelings and traumas they experienced during the Coronavirus pandemic are unique to each individual. As employees return to the workplace, it is important to establish boundaries in order for your teams to feel comfortable and confident and ultimately, be productive.

How to Effectively Establish Boundaries at Work

1. Be Hyper-Aware

While we were practicing awareness pre-pandemic, there are things that we didn’t even think twice about before. Someone sneezing or coughing around you used to be no big deal, but now that kind of thing makes us uneasy. To take it even further, you may have a conversation with a coworker who is talking about what they did over the weekend. Now, we listen to where they’ve been, who they were with, and if they were following proper guidelines. This hyper-awareness enables us to determine what we’re comfortable with and what we’re not, allowing the effective establishment of new boundaries. 

2. Be Honest

One of the most important things we can do to set boundaries in our new workplace is to be honest with one another about our needs. We need to stop letting other people dictate what we are comfortable with. For example, if you are meeting with five individuals and one person is not wearing a mask and that makes you uncomfortable, you can establish a boundary and say something like, “I would prefer if you wear a mask while we’re meeting.” 

3. Communicate with Respect

When it comes to communicating with our coworkers about our boundaries and comfort levels, we need to be respectful while also getting our point across. For example, if one of your coworkers left a dirty dish in the sink, it’s best to communicate to them that you’d like them to clean that dish and put it away so you don’t have to touch it. By doing this respectfully, communication will be much more clear and establish a critical boundary for future instances.

Everyone has been impacted by this pandemic but we each respond to its traumas and changes differently. However, workplace boundaries are meant to ensure you and others feel comfortable while in the office and when interacting with coworkers. A respectful approach is necessary and when communicated clearly, boundaries can be effective in enhancing workplace culture, collaboration, and productivity.