Setting boundaries in a remote work industry

GMC Events CEO, Matt Tooth shares tips on how to strike a healthy work-life balance while operating in the dynamic, demanding and fast-paced events industry.

From top to bottom, whether you’re organising your own festival or coming in during show week to help on the last push, the events industry is demanding. It’s likely you, a colleague or someone within your circle has spent a good period away from home during your career, working long days in a high-pressure environment to overcome whatever challenges are thrown our way. The doors will open, and the show must go on as they say.

The industry is strongly supported by a network of freelancers, who often feel that they can’t take time off during high seasons for fear of not knowing what’s coming next. The security of the industry was shaken to its core in the past few years so it’s not surprising that you’ll see the same team of crew, office staff and managers across a plethora of shows, back-to-back. However, what does that mean for the phrases we’re hearing more commonly like burn-out, fatigue, staff turn-over and mental capacity?

The technological advancements we saw throughout the pandemic where remote working and video conferencing became a staple, also came with some nasty side effects.

Whether your crew going through onboarding, or a key manager advancing a contract there’s now much more demand for time. Balancing multiple clients and stakeholders, less interaction with colleagues on a day-to-day basis, or overhearing a conversation across the office that might impact you, has resulted in a endless screen based exercise of meetings, leaving little room during the working day to get down to the nitty gritty that arguably can have the best impact to the customer.

What’s vital here is to set boundaries. You’re not a machine that’s available 24/7. Yes, it’s okay to work a bit later here and there but don’t let that lead to your clients expecting an immediate answer when they WhatsApp you at 10pm on a Friday. Prioritise your work and ensure you have some spare capacity throughout the day, week or month to account for those curveballs that inevitably crop up. Define the foundations of your contracts with clear deliverables, timelines and scopes of work.

There’s an abundance of tools out there now to assist with planning your week, tracking your time from project to project, prioritising tasks based on deadlines and more. Whether these work for you or not, the principle of not overexerting yourself remains the same.

Protecting your mental wellbeing really does start with you. In a world where we are surrounded by a constant source of stimulus via social media, WhatsApp groups and news, it’s becoming vital to disconnect.

We all want to deliver to the best of our abilities, have returning clients, consolidate our reputations, and although it might not seem that way in those moments of madness, a healthy work-life balance is critical to achieving that. Block time in your calendar for a walk, swim, knitting or anything else that gives you relaxation. Come back feeling fresher, more focused, more driven and ultimately, healthy.

GMC Events specialises in site systems, procurement and build management. Matt Tooth has extensive experience managing large projects in the Middle East, and internationally, making complex logistics and deadlines second nature.