HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Alannah Clarke Horne, HR Team Lead at Boundless

Alannah Clarke Horne is the HR Team Lead at Boundless, the OS for global teams which combines an intuitive employment platform with deep local market and operational expertise.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Sure! Having been working in the area of people operations in the startup world since 2014, my current role is Head of the People Team with Boundless, an Employer of Record, which helps companies hire compliantly in different countries without having to set up their own local entity.

In other words, we facilitate companies to hire remotely, legally, or to allow them access to new talent markets without the hassle of opening new offices. As this requires me to work across many different countries, I gain insight into employment law and HR practices through many jurisdictions.

I work directly with our clients and their employees, as well as our lawyers in each country when we are incorporating and setting up our services, so while it can be challenging to manage so many nuanced HR approaches, I really enjoy how varied the role is.

I worked with my previous company for 5 years and then took a year out to travel, just before covid hit. Since then, like so many of us, I’ve been working remotely. My experiences of travel and remote work have now convinced me that this is really the way I want to work and live. I try to take advantage of that as much as possible, while still keeping my base in one place. I’m not sure I’d be able to go back to office work at this point!

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As well as being fully remote, we also support a flexible working environment at Boundless, with core hours and flexibility outside of those. I usually spread my day over longer hours than when I used to work in an office, but take longer breaks to do other things during the day also.

When I’m at home I either start with an early morning yoga class in a nearby studio or spend a couple of hours working before fitting in some exercise at home.

When working from other locations, I often try to get out for an early walk or to do some exploring. I try to develop a new routine when abroad so there is not too much disruption to my work. I make use of a portable second screen when not at my home desk, and good wifi and headphones are a must.

I try to keep a balance of internal meetings, client calls, answering emails and deeper research or work on projects. I enjoy our policy of no calls on Wednesdays (which I try to keep to as much as possible). Sometimes I take a very short lunch, or sometimes a longer one to meet a friend – flexibility really is key for me.

I keep socialising to weekends more when at home, but when abroad I try to get out and about as much as possible.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

To me, work-life balance means that I have enough time for what is important to me outside of work, while also achieving what I want to in my role and career. This means that I enjoy working harder some weeks (longer days, more intensive), knowing that when I need to I can also take more time for my personal life.

Remote working has greatly helped me focus on doing things I could not when I worked 5 days a week in an office – however, I do find that it can also be harder to switch off as your home becomes your work space too. I do have to be careful of that, as it’s easy to check emails late at night.

I also think this balance will shift over time, as priorities change. Being able to recognise when that is happening and adjust is important.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I have picked up an old routine of exercising outside of the house before starting my work day, which I used to do when I was office based.

I had been doing home workouts during the pandemic, and kept those up even when restrictions eased, but in the last few months I have really enjoyed getting out of the house early. When working from home, it can be easy to let a day slip by without leaving until work is over, especially in winter. I find getting out to do something early energising.

I am also trying to schedule calls in blocks, so I make time for deeper work where I can really focus without interruptions.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I studied English literature in college, so I love reading novels and listening to audiobooks, usually several at one time! Some favourite authors include Hanya Yanagihara and Elizabeth Strout.

I prefer music to podcasts generally – many genres.

I use the Headspace app sleep section to disconnect before bed.

As you may have noticed, I’m a big advocate of remote working and flexibility and I think is a good resource to understand the data around it.

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I enjoy reading the advice of many and distilling it down to the things that speak to me – as this is unique to everyone, and what works for one person might be difficult for another.

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I think how you make this work and what your priorities are is very personal, so it’s really important to be able to identify the specifics that work for you, and what your non-negotiables are.

If you can identify those things that really lift you up, or allow you to switch off, and ensure you keep those sacred, it will be a big help. You can even share those things with your team so they know where your work/life boundaries lie.  

It’s great that there is more and more of a focus on the right to disconnect in certain countries at a government and legislative level, which shows how important this matter is. I think supporting this is a key way employers will retain talent, now and in the future, and it is something employees are asking for more and more.

Doing nothing is important. Balance is not just about splitting ourselves between being active and productive when working and outside of work – many pressures exist in both spheres. It’s also important to give yourself the space to be still. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.