Checking work emails after office causes stress

Written by PTI | Washington | Updated: May 6 2014, 00:31am hrs
StressUsing your phones and tablets to access work emails after office hours can dramatically increase your stress levels, a new US study has warned. Thinkstock
Using your phones and tablets to access work emails after office hours can dramatically increase your stress levels, a new US study has warned.

The Gallup study found nearly half of workers who "frequently" email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress "a lot of the day yesterday," compared with the 36 per cent experiencing stress who never email for work.

Time spent working remotely outside of working hours aligns similarly, with 47 per cent of those who report working remotely at least seven hours per week having a lot of stress the previous day compared with 37 per cent experiencing stress who reported no remote work time.

These data were collected from March 24 through April 10, 2014 to explore the effects of mobile technology on politics, business, and well-being in the US.

Gallup interviewed 4,475 working US adults, and the findings hold true after controlling for age, gender, income, education, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and children in household.

In seeming contrast to the relationship between the use of mobile technology for work and its relationship to elevated daily stress, workers who email or work remotely outside of normal working hours also rate their lives better than their counterparts who do not.

As with stress, frequency of emailing outside of work and hours spent working remotely are closely linked to the percentage of respondents who are "thriving."

Regardless of well-being related outcomes such as daily stress and life evaluations, employers' expectations play a clear role in employees' mobile technology use, according to the study.

Sixty-two per cent of workers who have employers that expect work-related mobile use said they use email frequently outside of working hours, compared with 23 per cent of those whose employers have no such expectations.

Just 5 per cent of workers said they never email outside of work even in the existence of such employer expectations, compared with 30 per cent who never email in the absence of those employer expectations. A similar pattern exists for remote work.

The unusual dichotomy in key well-being outcomes - daily stress and life satisfaction - and work-related mobile technology use provides evidence that such behaviours can both positively and negatively influence employees' well-being.

Even after controlling for all key demographics, workers who leverage mobile technology more often outside of work are much more likely to be stressed on any given day, while simultaneously being more likely to rate their lives better.