How to set healthy boundaries with clients

Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 by Nicole Fracasso

We live in a world that’s “always on,” writes Sandra Wiley, CPA, president of Boomer Consulting. With the click of a button, we have access to phone calls, texting and email. When communication is this easily accessible, it’s not hard to become distracted by work during your off hours.

But in a recent article from Accounting Web, Wiley discusses four methods to setting boundaries with your clients.

“Often, the biggest enemy is ourselves – not the technology, clients or employers. We think we need to be available all the time because we have a mobile device or a home office, but in most cases, it’s simply not the reality – nor should it be.”

First, Wiley says to “establish priorities and parameters.” In college, professors set office hours for students to meet with them. These hours are a set time communicated by the professor, so students won’t have to rush the conversation before or after class. Wiley emphasizes the importance of setting your own office hours at work.

“For me, work hours are between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. After 6 p.m. is family time,” she said. “For you, it might be different.”

The next step is to communicate. If you aren’t clear about when you are and aren’t available, don’t be surprised when others don’t know, writes Wiley.

“This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible when there is a real emergency or put in extra time when busy season or an important project demands it,” writes Wiley.

Third, Wiley says to “practice what you preach.” When you communicate your working hours to your client, make sure to ask about theirs as well. For example, Wiley occasionally likes to spend the evening catching up on emails. To respect her clients time, she has her email set up to only deliver emails during working hours. Therefore, if she sends and email in the late evening, it won’t deliver until the following morning.

Lastly, Wiley says to protect your time. In any work environment you’re going to receive emails outside of normal work hours, and it’s easy to think you’ll quickly reply, but often that isn’t the case. To avoid this situation, Wiley suggests leaving your phone in another room, or leaving it on silent.

“We’ve all been so hooked on our smartphones that we’ve nearly forgotten how to live without them,” writes Wiley. “So, it helps to come up with ways to protect your time and boundaries.”

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