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Out of Office? Then Stop Checking Your Emails

18th October 2016

Should there be a clear divide between work & home life, or is it reasonable for businesses to expect their staff to check emails outside of working hours? 67% of Irish employers think it's no problem, according to the results of our most recent Employment Monitor. 



Add to that an overwhelming 79% of employees who, according to a 2014 Gallup poll, said that using a phone, tablet, or laptop outside of typical working hours is beneficial. Despite the fact that employers and employees alike see no problem with checking the odd email from home, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests working outside your hours could be making you more stressed, and less productive. 

Stress

One study entitled Exhausted, but Unable to Disconnect: The impact of Email-related Organizational Expectations on Work-family Balance¸ found that emailing outside your allotted hours makes you more likely to experience stress, burnout, and an imbalanced work-family life.

The study found that emailing from home could be placing as much stress on you as your workload, deadlines, and conflicts at work. Even if you're not taking much work home, the inability to unplug keeps you on edge and prevents you from relaxing fully. In fact, there is so much evidence to back this up that France has introduced a law preventing employees from checking work emails at the weekend.

Productivity

Another study conducted by Dr. John Pencavel in 2014 looked at the relationship between hours worked, and output achieved. What he found was that employees working 56 hours achieved the same level of output as those working 70 hours, rendering the last 14 hours more or less redundant.

While those extra 14 hours may not achieve much in terms of output, they can still be quite an influential factor on your wellbeing. Working this extra time for little or no result simply means that you will be more tired, more stressed out, and have less time to disconnect from work. All of these factors negatively impact not only your wellbeing, but also your performance. 

Unplugging

Employers responding to our survey earlier this year cited email as the biggest workplace distraction. Despite this 67% of them expect their staff to check their emails out of hours. Clearly expectations are too high for many workers, but some blame may also lie with those who are unable to separate themselves from work.

Over the past few years, our Employment Monitor has identified some clear trends in our relationships with our jobs. Irish people give far more time to work than we should: one third of us put in an extra 5 hours a week, while a whopping 80% (myself included) have failed to take our full annual leave allowance, despite Ireland having the second-lowest allowance in the EU already. We have also found that 88% of employees believe they can be productive no matter where they work, which may help explain why so many of us are so willing to work outside of our hours. 

There is a common misconception that the more you work on something, the more devoted you are to it. The results of our studies have consistently shown that the biggest problem Irish people have with work is doing too much of it. While being devoted to your work is admirable, the scientific research clearly shows that the inability to separate your work and home life will have a negative impact on both. So do yourself, your family, and your career a favour and stop working hours outside of your working hours. 

Want to know more?

See the full results of our Q3 2016 Employment Monitor to see how employers feel about automation, tattoos, Brexit, and more. 

View Report
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About the Author

Simon Griffin

Marketing Executive

Marketing Dept.

I have worked as a writer since I began attending university, and have been working in marketing ever since I graduated. I aim to provide well-researched, fact based, original work that people will find useful and interesting. I have written hundreds of articles as both a freelancer and a marketing executive, and look forward to writing for Cpl. 

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