By Buddy Blouin
In many ways, the military is starkly different from civilian life. In others, however, there is some overlap. We’ve all likely experienced or been affected by a boss or coworker who doesn’t understand “me time.” That time when you are more worried about catching up on an episode on Netflix or talking to your loved ones in pajamas than you are about whatever the demands of work may have. The accessibility of phones has pros and cons, but when it comes to personal boundaries, it is important for higher-up’s to understand what is crossing the line when it comes to talking about work on personal devices. This is why an Army General wants his leaders to stop texting Soldiers so much.

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What Are Personal Boundaries?

A personal boundary is a realistic expectation of privacy and personal time. It is being able to make a decision that, so long as it’s lawful, is yours to make. Ultimately, personal boundaries are any such parameters that you set up in your personal life for your own well-being, mental health, and personal space within a relationship. All relationships need, and frankly benefit, from personal boundaries, and this includes your workplace relationships. Leaders who have access to their subordinates 24/7 can abuse this power, even without realizing it. Having to feel like you are “always on the clock” can be detrimental to even the strongest worker. This is why it is an important topic to explore and a welcome sight to see certain members of the Army taking boundaries in the workplace so seriously.

Late Night Messages Bring Stress and Erode Personal Boundaries

Receiving late-night messages hurts teams because instead of unwinding, the members of your team are focused once again on work-related tasks. People need time to recuperate and compartmentalize their work away from their personal and family life. Always having to be attentive to one’s phone can also lead to anxiousness. Gen. Milford H. Beagle Jr. agrees and is working to ease the stress on troops who are experiencing such issues: “Change is a constant around us, but not all change needs to be communicated via text, chat groups, or other messaging applications. The constant need to be tethered to one’s phone for work-related information serves to keep soldiers and leaders on edge, unable to function without the fear of missing something.” The military often encourages noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to keep tabs on other service members to help avoid personal issues from becoming military issues. In doing so, military personnel may find their personal boundaries not always respected. With the easy access via texting, the strain can cause issues that are seen in many workplaces throughout America. “We owe it to soldiers to provide good leadership, great training, and predictability,” said Gen. Beagle in a recent letter. “Predictability helps to ensure uninterrupted personal time outside the standard duty day,” he continued.

New Personal Boundaries for Messaging Going Forward

Soldiers serving in the 10th Mountain Division should not be sent work-related texts or any other messages before 5:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. local time. Exceptions apply, such as for members who are working on a mission or assignment, but the idea is to reduce such communication across the board. Personal messages are still allowed, as the policy is not aimed at stifling comradery, but work talk should cease during those hours. “The ultimate aim of this policy is to stimulate the use of Army systems, processes, and doctrine to disseminate information and effectively use our training management processes. Circumventing the process only adds to a lack of predictability if discipline, thought, and consideration are not applied. Our goal in the 10th Mountain Division is to break the cycle,” reads the conclusion of the letter. Seeing leadership take these steps, especially when there is a history of complaints, is encouraging for those serving as well as civilians who may be affected by these patterns due to a loved one serving. For more details about the policies in place for the 10th Mountain Division in regards to personal boundaries and workplace messages after hours, take a look below at a tweet from the General himself: [embed]https://twitter.com/10MTNDIV/status/1534506276692058112?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[/embed]

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