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Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion
Hybrid working: wellbeing and inclusion

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4.4 Establishing boundaries

When you’re a home-based worker, it’s not always obvious to family, friends or other members of your household when you’re working and when you’re not, and when you can or cannot be interrupted – you need to make it clear where your boundaries are.

Some people don’t mind receiving emails or messages outside of traditional office hours, but others prefer to keep work and non-work distinct. Which camp do you fall into?

If you want that work–life separation, consider only accessing your emails during your working hours, and not having emails available on personal devices, if you have a dedicated work device. Include a short message about your working practices in your email signature, which will help manage your colleagues’ expectations around response times.

Use the wellbeing features – such as ‘do not disturb’ settings – on your digital devices to minimise notifications, identify times when you won’t look at them, or even consider switching them off completely outside your working hours. This idea of ‘digital disconnection’ – a counterpoint to the issue of presenteeism – is a hot topic in the human resources and occupational health sectors at the moment, as you will see in the next activity.

In terms of the on-site aspects of hybrid working, what boundaries are there in relation to coming in to the office? Does your organisation or department have stated expectations around attendance at on-site meetings? If you no longer have your own designated desk in your organisation’s offices, are there clear guidelines about where and when you can work on site?

Activity 9 Digital disconnection

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Read What is the right to digital disconnection? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (1300 words) on the ifeel website (Rodríguez, 2022). ifeel is a business that offers emotional wellbeing resources to organisations.

As you read it, note down the key points that resonate with you and your experience of hybrid/digital working. You can use the box below to capture your thoughts.

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For some people, like those who have significant caring responsibilities or are living with chronic illness or disability, hybrid/digital working has opened up new possibilities for more flexibility in their working schedule. However, the danger remains that employees feel pressured to work longer hours, e.g. those who mainly fulfil their contractual obligations early in the morning/late at night and/or at weekends may still feel obliged to attend meetings or respond to communications received during traditional office hours.