Healthy boundaries between work and private life

People differ in the way they separate or mix the areas of life from each other. In mobile and flexible working teams, conflicts and stress quickly arise due to different needs. It is therefore important to become aware of your own needs and to exchange ideas with others. In this way, individual strategies as well as rules can be defined with the team and/or the family, which enable a healthand productivity-promoting boundary management.

Obligations and dangers

In today’s working world, in which many work flexibly on the move, companies and managers have less influence on the health behavior of employees. To this end, the scope for action and the personal responsibility of employees have increased. This brings as advantages more autonomy, more self-realization possibilities and better reconciliation of work and family or other private obligations and interests.

In recent years, however, there has also been an increase in psychological stress: feelings of being overwhelmed, difficulty being able to switch off from work in the evening and sleep problems are common problems. In the long run, the blurred boundaries between work and private life also entail great dangers.

People differ, according to Boundary Theory (Nippert-Eng, 1996), in the way they delineate or integrate and blend different life worlds (work, personal, hobby, friends).


Different boundary types

Strongly segmenting people prefer to set clear and impermeable boundaries between work and private life (Gisin, 2014). And they prefer clear structures and rituals. Strongly integrating people have the need to let these life worlds flow into each other as optimally as possible. They like and need high autonomy.

Between these two poles there are many different “mixed types” who integrate or segment depending on their situation. If a person is a mixed type and identifies very much with a task and is very enthusiastic about it, then he likes to work longer hours in the evening, whereas he prefers to avoid this with less interesting tasks. This type has the highest demands on boundary management.


Healthy boundary strategies according to your type

Manage your Home Office place

Manage your social contacts

Manage your technologies


Manage your time

Conscious control of working time is mostly import for the segmenting type.
• Adhere to block times, clear temporal separation between work and private life
• Keep weekends work-free
• Consciously finish work and then stop working

Managing break times is Important for everybody
Consciously plan and adhere to breaks. Break research recommends 5 minutesbreaks every hours. Get up from your chair, move a little, open your window or go outside and take three deep breaths, drink some tea or water and don’t look into your smartphone to give your eyes a break too. Break research shows that these regular breaks increase not only your well-being but also your productivity and your ability in problem-solving and creativity.


Communicate your strategies

If others violate your own limits, e.B. your colleague often calls at 8 p.m. in the evening, although you have set your availability by 6 p.m., then you should address this and defend your borders. After all, it’s about protecting your health, recovering well and thus remaining efficient.


Additional tips

• Say “no” but suggesting alternatives
• Not always wanting to do everything immediately or perfectly
• Seek support – Boundary Management can be learned

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