Checking work emails in non-work hours can harm your health

The insidious impact of 'always on' organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit

Distinct to the work associated requests that deescalate employee capital physical and psychological by necessitating time away from home.

Concern has already been raised about millions of employees who read messages last thing before they go to bed - and first thing when they wake up.

This study comes months after New York Councilman Rafael Espinal introduced a "Right to Disconnect" Bill, the first of its kind in the USA and modeled after a similar legislation in France, which would make it unlawful for private employees in New York to respond to work email after hours.

The paper is the first to identify the phenomenon that has implications for office workers across the world. The idea would be to create clear boundaries for employees that indicate the times when work role identity enactment is likely to be needed and the times when employees can focus exclusively on their family role identities.

For individuals, mindfulness training has been shown to be an effective approach to reducing anxiety and work-related negative affect and could possibly help with the long-term health and relationship satisfaction effects of electronic communication demands on employees and their partners, the study reports.

Turns out, employer expectations of work email monitoring during non-working hours are harmful to the health of not only employees but their family as well.

He said policies that reduce expectations to monitor electronic communication outside of work would be ideal.

This could be by setting up off-hour email windows or schedules when employees are available to respond. Additionally, expectations should be communicated clearly. He further added that if the nature of the job requires email availability, it should be stated beforehand.

The mere expectation of work contact can increase the strain on employees and their spouses, writes William Becker, associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech and co-author of the study, "Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being".

The study team suggests a few methods for employers and employees to lessen these negative effects: Manage employer expectations on after-hours email and help employees to engage in mindfulness practices to reduce anxiety, no matter what after-hours expectations are. "Thus, we demonstrated that these normative expectations for work email monitoring during non-work hours is a significant stressor above and beyond actual workload and time spent on handling it during non-work hours", she said.

Other findings show that this expectation to take care of work-related commitments after the work of the day is done can prove detrimental to family relationships of the employee, as the employee is not able to fulfil his responsibilities at home.

There are also lessons for both employees and employers.

An earlier study also found checking work emails at home or taking a call from the boss at weekends could be damaging to health.

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