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Your guide to drawing boundaries at work from your ‘virtual work bestie’

Content creator Laura Whaley dons the character of stereotypical co-workers and teaches you where to draw the line and say ‘toodaloo’ to workplace stressors.

As we build conversations around mental health, work-life balance, evils of the corporate world, and the need to draw professional boundaries, we wonder what more can be said that hasn’t been said before. But the thing is, it will never be enough. We continue to be a part of a workforce where 38 per cent (As per Statista) of the employees have reported feeling burnt-out frequently.  We work in environments that are replete with poor leadership styles, co-workers who may not always be aware of crossing boundaries, and the list goes on. Often, the best solution to these situations is to communicate effectively by drawing your own boundaries. But like me, if you have often struggled with drawing boundaries or even saying no, then we’re in need of guidelines and advice. 

Content creator Laura Whaley, popularly known as the ‘virtual work bestie’, started sharing her experience of working from home during the pandemic. Her content was perceived as highly relatable across generations. As her followers grew, she sought to create a space for like-minded people who may have been experiencing similar challenges and situations at the workplace. Her content grew from simple WFH situations to toxic work cultures and more. And we love it. So, we’ve compiled what we think are some of her best tips to draw your workplace boundaries in a professional and polite manner. 

Know what a supportive boss should be like 


Imagine you’re feeling stuck and directionless on a project and are in need of guidance or you’re feeling overburdened with responsibilities. A supportive manager is likely to hear you out and work towards streamlining the process with you. Keep in mind that a leader is there to support you. In her videos, Whaley draws on the differences between a boss and a leader, and shows us what real leadership and guidance look like. 

Say no, in a nicer way 


In her videos, Whaley often features the ‘co-worker who doesn’t understand boundaries’. These could be for a range of situations such as getting work after official work hours, being pinged (multiple times) on a day off, being expected to carry out more work than you are able to and much more. The thing is, it may not be a wise idea to be rude or impolite to your co-workers (you have to ultimately work with them). So, ‘work bestie’ teaches us how to draw our boundaries, leaving the co-workers *confused in corporate*. 

Understand your worth and speak up 


Have you ever been given a host of responsibilities to follow through that don’t fall under your job profile? Are you being expected to carry out projects that you aren’t prepared for, demand longer working hours or are worth more than what you’re being paid for? Here’s your cue to speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, and demand (nicely) what you deserve. It may not always go your way, but making the organisation aware of your thoughts will help you arrive at a middle ground. 

Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes—and don’t allow others to either 


Normalise making mistakes. You’re only human. We live in a world where we’re put down for making errors, but we forget that those mistakes and failures are some of the biggest lessons you’ll ever get. To start a conversation around this, Whaley asked people to share the biggest mistakes they made in their workplace and was vocal about it being normal. She advocates not beating yourself up for it and being kind to yourself. 

Take a break—unapologetically and guilt-free 


Everyone deserves a break. It is an important part to sustain and create a healthy work-life balance. So, here are some keep-in-minds: don’t apologise for needing a break (even if your boss or co-workers make you feel otherwise), put in that out-of-office email, and do not respond to calls, emails or messages that you may get when you’re on leave. In fact, Whaley recommends you to not carry your work laptop with you while you’re taking some time off.