What You Need to Know About Checking Work Email After Hours

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It may cause stress but lead to a better life, Gallup finds.

Are you feeling more stressed in your job? It could be because of your mobile device.

New research from Gallup shows a link between checking email and working remotely outside of normal business hours to higher levels of stress. Nearly half (48 percent) of 4,475 U.S. working adults surveyed who frequently email for work outside of normal business hours reported experiencing a lot of stress, compared with 36 percent who never email outside of working hours.

The same was true for those who work remotely, with stress levels linked to a greater frequency of remote work. Forty-seven percent of those working remotely seven or more hours per week reported experiencing stress, compared with 37 percent who reported no remote work time.

Yet despite reporting higher levels of stress, those who email or work remotely outside of normal business hours rate their lives better than their non-remote working counterparts. The frequency of emailing and working remotely outside of work is closely linked to the percentage of respondents who report they are “thriving,” or rating their present life a 7 or higher and their life in five years an 8 or higher, based on a 10-point scale.

For example, 63 percent who frequently check email or work remotely seven or more hours per week report they are “thriving” because of those habits, compared with just 54 percent and 52 percent who never check email or work remotely outside of office hours, Gallup found.

Employer expectations also are driving employee use of mobile devices, with 62 percent of workers who have employers that expect work-related mobile use say they use it outside of the office, compared with 23 percent who have employers that do not expect mobile use.

“It is possible that by emailing or working remotely outside of normal hours, workers associate such behaviors with greater professional success and accomplishment, thus elevating how they think about and evaluate their lives more generally,” the report states. “At the same time, the elevated levels of stress associated with these behaviors may fall into what some refer to as ‘productive stress.’”

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