Sending Emails After Work Has Serious Health Consequences

So stop sending them!
PHOTO: Getty

Switching off from work is easier said than done, particularly when the temptation to check emails outside of the office makes it difficult to truly disconnect. 

However, if you're prone to scrolling through your inbox when you get home, there's a good reason to kick this habit. new study has found after-work emailing is damaging to the emotional well-being of employees, which can lead to reduced productivity and chronic stress.

Researchers from Lehigh University, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State University worked together to collect data from 297 working adults. They explored the expectations associated with answering emails out of hours and how the anticipation of receiving emails is at the root of related anxiety. 

In an article about their study, the researchers explained how email contributes to feeling overworked. "It allows employees to engage in work as if they never left the workspace, and at the same time, inhibits their ability to psychologically detach from work-related issues via continuous connectivity.

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"This suggests that organizational expectations can steal employee resources even when actual time is not required because employees cannot fully separate from work," the authors added.

Although this "continuous connectivity" might reflect a hard-working attitude, it's actually inefficient for employers. In order to provide a more fulfilling workplace, the study suggests organizations should encourage a positive work-life balance. This means limiting the expectation to respond to emails straight away.

"Such policies may not only reduce employee pressure to reply to emails after-hours and relieve the exhaustion from stress, but will also serve as a signal of organizational caring and support, potentially increasing trust in management, work identification, job commitment, and extra-role behaviors," said the study.

This research comes after France's President Hollande proposed a labor reform to give employees the "right to disconnect." This means companies with more than 50 staff will have to set hours when emails are not allowed to be read or sent. 

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A ban on post-work emailing? Maybe that's what it takes to stop us from reaching for our phones.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors. 

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