While the thought of returning to our pre-pandemic way of life may sound desirable, we’ve been moving past wishing for the way things used to be and learning how to adapt to the way things are. We are looking ahead to what is next for our businesses and ourselves and realizing the importance of reflecting on the lessons we’ve learned from the past 18 months - what worked and what didn’t.

Whether it be the introduction of a hybrid work model, restructuring of businesses to meet the needs of an e-commerce driven world or an increase in time employees can spend with their families, our way of life today changed in significant ways and will likely stick around in the long-term. 

Business leaders and their employees worked twice as hard just to stay afloat. Were you regularly working beyond typical business hours or unable to truly unplug while on vacation? You weren’t alone.

As I take the time to revisit boundaries that have been vastly disrupted this past year, I’ve noted three things that were helpful when setting and maintaining boundaries to reestablish balance that may have been lost during the pandemic. 

Empower Your Team

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Businesses fought, evolved and pushed through unprecedented challenges to succeed. At times, small business owners may have felt the weight of the world on their shoulders. 

But, with these changes many of us were pushed outside of our comfort zone. We relied on our teams for new tasks and identified new strengths within ourselves and our employees.

Now is the time to remember - we can’t do it alone and prioritize teamwork.

By trusting and empowering your team, you are not only giving them an opportunity to achieve new goals and reach new professional growth, but you can also help restore balance and focus on the big picture of what your business needs to succeed. 

Relying on team members to work together to achieve business objectives will help you establish a better balance. 

Communicate and Overcommunicate

The lines between work and home have become blurred. As a result, we are working more than ever before. While this has become the norm, that does not mean it is best or how things should be done.

A status-quo unquestioned will not change. That is why I am reflecting on the past year and communicating boundaries to find balance.

Have open and honest conversations regarding time and bandwidth. Speak up and voice your concerns rather than unnecessarily taking on everything that comes your way. 

Leaders should be having frequent check-ins with team members to ensure they feel comfortable and empowered to communicate their own boundaries. It’s a two-way street. Whether under or over capacity, these conversations are critical in making sure everyone has a fulfilling experience. At their core, problems need to be communicated for solutions to be put into action. 

Identify Your Non-negotiables

Setting boundaries is easier said than done. There will be occurrences when work must take priority. While flexibility is necessary, it is important to identify and communicate your non-negotiables.

For me, that’s my family. They will always come first and I’m grateful for a team that understands that. 

Ask yourself what is most important to you. Is it being able to step away from work for family dinners or being able to unplug regularly at 6pm? Maybe you need to pick your children up from school or prioritize a break for exercise and will be unavailable for a bit. Establishing these boundaries is healthy. 

As leaders, we should lead by example. Encourage your teams to do the same. Because, finding balance will make you more productive and help your business in the long run.