HOW TO Creating Boundaries Prevents Constructing Walls in the Workplace

employees at a team building event

Table of Contents

Drawing boundaries to prevent constructing walls and achieving a new work-life balance among remote, in-person and hybrid teams…

As our workforce adjusts to the “new normal,” teams need to establish new rules of engagement to avoid the push-back caused by unrealistic expectations. Almost half of the labor force worked remotely in 2020, and up to 74 percent of workers would like to have more remote hours in the future. (Deloitte).  In fact, a recent LinkedIn survey said that two-thirds of employees are willing to take a pay cut to continue to work remotely. It’s not a secret many workers have become used to and prefer some level of working from home. So how can we make the in-person or hybrid format for workers more appealing, more productive, and engaging?

Tara Powers, CEO of Powers Resource Center, has been leading remote teams and championing leader success for decades. She offers insight into how to best establish healthy connections and realistic boundaries as employees come back to the workplace, even in a part-time format. In her work with virtual teams as well as a Brene Brown Dare to Lead” facilitator, Tara has seen the pitfalls of not establishing appropriate boundaries. Daring leaders set, hold and respect boundaries, even when it’s hard. Today’s insight offers some solutions:


  1. Email EXPECTATIONS.  The average office worker receives 121 emails per day, and the average professional spends 28 percent of the workday reading and answering emails according to a McKinsey analysis. This can be overwhelming and exhausting. Even though we have access to email 24/7, don’t expect teams to respond at all hours. In fact, leaders can model parameters for answering and responding to messages during a defined set of hours each day no matter where you are.
    • Discussion Question: What expectations has your team discussed regarding availability when working from home?
  2. ZOOM/Virtual Meeting Burnout. The popularity of Zoom conferences and meetings exploded during the pandemic. While this was necessary over this past year, teams need to reign in its use. Establish “Zoom-free” days blocked out for teams to get actual work done.
    • Discussion Question: What meetings does your team engage in that are focused on information only when video conferencing may not be necessary? (HINT: Video conferences are best held for meetings that aim to build relationships, promote engagement and foster emotional intelligence.)
  3. STAY interviews. Instead of cleaning up after an employee leaves the company, make a conscious effort to find out what is going well while they are still employed. Conduct informal, honest and open discussions face to face around what is working and what is not working for an individual’s circumstances. Model brave and authentic accountability for owning any challenges.
    • Discussion Question: In what ways is your team invest in open discussions about what’s going well and not going well at work?
  4. Be REAL. Gone are the days of hiding one’s personal life or expecting employees to leave everything at home. By allowing coworkers to talk about and name their experiences and challenges, we are honoring an employee’s reality. It doesn’t mean we have to solve personal problems; rather, it allows space for building a container of trust.
    • Discussion Question: In what ways is your team honoring and openly discussing the experiences you’ve had over the last 18 months?
  5. FLEXIBILITY.  Allow employees to construct a work environment that is most productive for them AND works for the company. While teams may require certain parameters to be effective, collaborate with employees to help design the format that will work with their new work/life/home demands.
    • Discussion Question: How does your team define flexibility and support this important value?

And be sure to WATCH this video on HOW TO Set Boundaries at Work.

PLUS, be sure to download our Five-Step Boundary Response Plan HERE.

In the Dare to Lead model, the Brene Brown-inspired workshops explore the context and applications for building Brave Leaders. The BRAVING Inventory can be used as a rumble tool—a conversation guide to use with colleagues that walks us through the conversation from a place of curiosity, learning, and ultimately trust-building. Powers Resource Center can facilitate a customizable program that will:

  • Build Brave Leaders and Courageous Cultures
  • Build Emotional Intelligence
  • Strengthen Virtual Leader Effectiveness

For more information on Dare to Lead workshops, connect with PRC today. PRC’s Virtual Team Academy is another great way to hone your remote teams’ effectiveness and cohesion.

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