Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Now that you have your own boundaries set in terms of office hours and how to spend your work time, creating written policies in a company handbook will make it official and easy to reference. Does that sound silly, given that you’re only one person? It shouldn’t. Any boss or employee, no matter if they work by themselves or have a crew of 50 people, should have their company policies in a handbook, even if it’s a short file stored on your desktop. This can help you see what boundaries you are setting for yourself and if you were to have employees working under you, you could share these boundaries with them as well.
Here are some things you need to think about putting in your policy handbook:
When can you be contacted outside of office hours and when can someone expect a response? If you’re taking your weekends off, tell them only Monday through Friday during your business hours. Allow yourself at least 24 business hours to return calls. If your afternoons are booked, then tell them to call before noon. Or set up some sort of message system if you miss their call.
How can people contact you? Email only? Personal cell phone? Office phone? Facebook Messenger? Skype? Choose the option(s) that work best for you. Be aware, however, that if you give out your personal cell phone, some people may try to take advantage of after-hours calls or texts. This is where you’ll need to show restraint and send the calls straight to voice mail or not respond to the text until your business hours start again. Likewise, with Messenger and Skype people expect immediate responses so be sure your people know that if you are busy, they will have to wait for a response.
Once you get all these policies on paper, let others know about them. You don’t owe anyone any explanations as to why the policies are being enacted or why things are changing if you’re implementing something different. Big companies change their policies all the time as the need arises, so you can say that, too.
Now, to make your life easier, find tools to automate and implement these policies so you don’t have to think about it every day. Google Voice offers “do not disturb” hours for your office phone and Boomerang for Gmail allows you to schedule when emails go out (aka during your business hours) and also pauses messages from going into your inbox while you’re busy.
Blessings & Love,