How To Set Healthy Boundaries When You Return to the Office

Yulia Gusterina /

Working remotely has given many women the flexibility they have needed to fulfill caregiving duties, take care of their mental health and achieve a better work-life balance. But what happens when we return to the office? In today’s “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with career experts who share ways for women to set healthy boundaries when they transition back into office life.

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See: 5 Easy Financial Habits Every Woman Should Pick Up

Ask For What You Want

If your company is planning to return to the office full time but you prefer to continue working remotely, have a conversation with your boss about your wants before assuming you’ll just get a “no.”

“Women returning to the office who need some flexibility are better positioned during these times to negotiate their needs,” said Stacie Haller, career expert at “What managers will care about is that the employee still performs at the same level or better than if they were in the office full time. When negotiating, whether for flex hours or a hybrid schedule, be prepared to detail how the workflow and all work will still be completed on time and that it will be seamless to the organization. Stay flexible as well to see how the new scheduling works, and get feedback from management to ensure that it is working well for all concerned.”

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Good Tips: How To Ask For a Raise — and Get It

Be Clear About Your Scheduling Needs

If your boss wants you back in the office full time, ask about working flexible hours so that you can keep up with any child care duties you may have.

“I think it’s always best to have open communication with your employer about what is feasible for you,” said Rachel Neill, CEO and founder of Carex Consulting Group and a mother of six. “For working mothers, it can be a challenge to coordinate getting to the office with school and child care. If there could be a way that you could set that up with your employer, it’s really best to bring that up. It’s often forgotten that your employer is there to help you so you can work to the best of your abilities.”

More: How the Rise of Remote Work Is Empowering Women

Stick To the Boundaries You Set

Even if your employer agrees to the flexibility or special accommodations you have asked for, it’s up to you that you ensure you actually stick to the agreed-upon boundaries.

“Stick to your guns,” said Archie Payne, president of CalTek Staffing. “By breaking your boundaries, you create the expectation that you will always be available and can be easily coerced, effectively undermining your boundaries. Keep the promises you have made to yourself and your family and friends. Taking care of your health and well-being must come first.”

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This may mean not answering emails after a certain time or leaving early on certain days to take care of your needs.

“By establishing concrete boundaries, you will be more effective and responsible in your approach to work, which ultimately leads to respect,” Payne said. “Put yourself first. You are your own top priority and your boundaries are in place for a reason. You need to respect that for your own well-being.”

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest stats, women hold $72 billion in private wealth — but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to be investing and are more likely to have debt, and women are still being paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons behind these inequities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality begins with financial literacy, so we’re providing tools and tips for women, by women to take control of their money and help them live a richer life.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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