Answering Work Email Off the Clock? You're Risking Your Health

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Flexible work boundaries can produce harmful effects even when employees aren’t actually “working” extended off-hours, according to a study from researchers in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. For example, an employer’s expectation that an employee will check email off-hours is enough to impact not only the employee’s health, but also the well-being of family members as well.

According to the researchers, these types of work-related expectations create competing demands on workers with families and produce anxiety. While other research has suggested that off-hours work can affect relationships, especially when it interferes with the employee’s ability to fill non-work-related roles and responsibilities, this is the first study to show that the mere expectation of off-hours work is enough to be harmful.

Here are some things that will help employers and employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance:

  • Employers: Reduce your expectation that employees will monitor electronic communications off hours
  • Employers: Establish off-hours email windows or schedules for employees
  • Employees: Practice mindfulness techniques, which have been shown to reduce anxiety and help you “be present” at home

Sourced from: Virginia Tech