Checking Work Email At Night May Be More Harmful Than You Thought

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Does this sound familiar? You’re finally home from work and just ready to relax with your favorite trashy TV show and perhaps a slice (or three) of chocolate cake. And then you hear that telltale ping that means you've got a new work email. The worst. Even if you try to ignore it, the number in that glaring red circle over the mail app on your phone continues to increase, along with your anxiety levels. Well, a new study concludes that this cycle may be even more harmful than you thought.

Researchers from Colorado State, Virginia Tech, and Lehigh University teamed up to study the effects of checking work emails after hours. Subjects included 385 workers from a wide range of professional fields (primarily finance and banking, technology, and healthcare), who were surveyed about how much time they spend on email outside of normal work hours. They were also asked about emotional exhaustion, work-family balance, and how well they are able to mentally separate themselves from work during their time off.

The results showed that expectations about checking email after work had a negative overall effect on employees' emotional states. Feeling the pressure to be available via email could lead to “burnout” and impact work-family balance, which the study points out is essential for health and well-being. So not only does receiving emails after-hours put a lot of stress on workers, just anticipating emails can have a significant and detrimental impact.

We might have some control over whether or not we check our emails after work, but we really don’t have any way to ensure that coworkers, clients, or superiors won’t bug us during non-business hours. That’s why some countries like France have passed labor reform laws that ban work email during the evening and on weekends. Studies like this one back up these labor reform laws, and we definitely hope it means change is coming for us, too. (HelloGiggles)

More from Work & Money