We know this will be difficult, but it’s time to hit the “log out” button on your work email.
That’s right, lock your phone up if you have to. Or dump a bucket of water on your desktop computer–whatever it takes to finally unplug from that diabolical server of digital correspondence for the rest of the evening.
Once you’re done, we promise you’ll start to feel better immediately.
That’s because a new study conducted by three U.S. universities found that people are actually damaging their health by continuing to check business emails after they’ve left the office. The researchers followed 297 working people who spanned a variety of industries and professions and tracked how much time they spent connected to the office outside of their regular hours.
On average, they found that individuals spent eight hours per week dealing with work-related emails in what should have been their free time. Which amounts to an extra full day’s worth of labour.
Needless to say, all that extra work is seriously stressing us out.
“Previous research has shown that in order to restore resources used during the day at work, employees must be able to detach both mentally and physically from work,” a release from Lehigh University reads. “Email is notoriously known to be the impediment of the recovery process. Its accessibility contributes to experience of work overload since 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.”
As a result, employees are left feeling anxious and depressed, their overall satisfaction with life diminishes, absenteeism and turnover rates go up while productivity plummets, researchers say.
So even though this culture of after-hours email can sometimes be an expectation enforced by the workplace, it actually damages employees’ abilities to produce good work (something to tell your boss the next time they email you at 9 p.m.).
Unfortunately, whether or not you’re subjected to these expectations depends largely on where you work and who you work for. But some countries have begun to get the message. France, for example, passed a labour reform law recently that bans the checking of work emails on weekends.
Hopefully, Canada will soon do the same.
You can learn more about the harms of checking your work email outside of your office hours in the video above.