How to set clear boundaries in your remote working environment to avoid exhaustion


Remote work has become the norm since the pandemic started. By now, we should have an idea of how to separate our personal and professional lives when they both seem so intertwined. However, statistics show that people continue to work long hours with an expectation of being available 24/7. This leads to exhaustion, burnout, and increased work-life stress.

The concept of remote work comes with amazing benefits such as flexibility, convenience, and the ability to connect with colleagues and clients across geography. For introverts, it means quiet time to focus on work with limited distractions from people walking to your desk every minute to make small talk.

On a personal level, the time you save from commuting to and from the office can be used to connect with your spouse, children, family, friends, pets or connecting with your inner self. You can use this available time mindfully to develop healthy habits, deepen relationships or do activities that give you more energy and lead to a higher level of productivity.

On the contrary, working remotely can also be a curse if you’re not careful. The rising levels of exhaustion from remote workers is a growing concern for many organisations around the globe. Surveys show one of the causes, especially for first-time remote workers, is the pressure to overcompensate by making themselves constantly available. Since they’re not physically visible to their manager and teams, they try to respond to every email, accept all tasks, and their virtual communication channels remain open throughout the day. For many others, these expectations are subtly imposed by managers.

The good news is that we can ease the burden and restore some normalcy and control by introducing boundaries. Boundaries ensure we draw the lines between professional and personal lives. Boundaries reduce stress and anxiety, lead to emotional stability and enhance your well-being.

Here are a few suggestions on setting clear boundaries around work time to avoid exhaustion:


Lack of communication is one reason managers feel the need to ‘micromanage.’ Let your boss and teammates know when they can expect you to be online and offline when you’re working from home. Communicate your preferred working hours to manage expectations. This will limit any speculation and unnecessary conflict.

Setting boundaries doesn’t mean that you’re putting up a wall or closing the lines of communication. Instead, you’re inviting others to respect your time and energy, especially if you don’t have a physical separation between work and personal life.

Once you’ve clearly communicated your boundaries, it’s important to practice what you preach. If you say you’re not going to respond to emails after 17h00, but then you send out emails at that time, you’re indirectly telling your boss and teammates that it’s okay to disrespect your boundaries. You have to be deliberate and intentional when setting your boundaries.

If people cross your boundaries, have a plan of how you’ll respond. For instance, if someone logs an urgent task, you can politely respond by saying, “I would love to help, but I can only commit to giving this project my full attention at a later time.”  If this feel like an area you could do with increased skill and support, contact us to explore some simple individual coaching options to discover how to have those important conversations that set boundaries and support positive relationships.

Maintain a routine

Rituals and routines are powerful because they help you create and maintain healthy boundaries wherever you’re working.

A routine ensures that you start and end your workday at a specific time. Since you don’t have to commute, you can introduce other cues to signal to your brain to switch from work mode to personal mode and vice versa. Daily rituals to end your workday can include exercise, meditation, packing up your work desk, writing a to-do list for the next day, practicing gratitude, preparing dinner, playing with kids, or reading a book.

As part of your routine, schedule time for lunch or a few shorter breaks throughout the day. It’s not healthy to stare at a screen for an extended period. Notice when you feel tired or when you need to move around or rehydrate. Get away from your desk to recharge, eat lunch or take a short walk outside. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself working around the clock, compromising your mental and physical health.

Often we can feel bad for setting boundaries. Yet having clear boundaries is the kindest thing to do for yourself.

Protect your energy

As you jump from video meeting to video meeting with a click of a button, be mindful of your energy and physical tolerance. Previously, you had the time to walk from a meeting room or drive to the next client meeting, allowing you a moment to pause, breathe and reset. Nowadays, we use up all our energy in these sessions, sitting in front of the screen, and spend less time being productive. This can be physically and emotionally draining!

Listen to your body and be kind to yourself. When your battery is running low, consider taking vacation leave as you would if you were working in the office. Even if you don’t physically go on holiday, make it a habit to switch off and rest when you’re off work. Limit distractions by disabling email notifications and be intentional and mindful about recharging.

Protecting your energy also requires that you eat right, sleep well, and maintain a balance in all areas of your life. Cultivate an awareness of your emotions and needs. As soon as you snap, react, or do something ‘out of character,’ it may be a sign to pause, breathe and focus on your needs. One way to practically do this is to cover your eyes and ears with your hands, take a few deep breaths, and reconnect with your calm self.

Protecting your energy is crucial to your health and sustaining a long-term career. The more you give yourself to the different roles you play in life, the more you need to be mindful of your well-being.

Often we can feel bad for setting boundaries. Yet having clear boundaries is the kindest thing to do for yourself.

You don’t have to do it alone! Let us know if you require any support and follow us on our social media channels below for simple tools and ideas to increase your wellbeing through effective practices.