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article imageChecking work email at night harms health

By Tim Sandle     Aug 19, 2018 in Internet
Modern technology has delivered many business benefits. It has also had the consequence of extending the working day and encouraging people to link into the workplace when off-duty. Checking email, for instance, is not good for mental health.
According to a new study from Virginia Tech, simply the expectation of checking work email after hours harms health of workers, and this also has an impact upon their families. The study signals a warning about 'flexible work boundaries' often turning into 'work without boundaries'.
The headline from the research is that workers do not need only need to be physically present at work, or to be ‘on work time’, to experience harmful effects. Moreover, employees do not even need to be actually logging-in to their work networks or checking work emails for effects to occur.
Stress and related conditions can arise as a result of the mere expectation of availability, which the researchers show increases the strain for employees. This stands in contrast to an article published in 2018 in The Daily Telegraph, which extols the virtues of remote working: “Modern employees, powered by connected technology, sing a different tune. They are encouraged to eschew traditional ways of working, and are both happier and more productive.”
In contrast, according to lead researcher, Professor William Becker: “The competing demands of work and nonwork lives present a dilemma for employees," Becker said, "which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives.”
For the study, the researchers took a sample of 142 full time employees and their families and looked at the health and relationship effects centred on email monitoring expectations once the employees had finished their core hours and were at home.
To mitigate the ill-health effects, policies that lower expectations of staff to monitor electronic communication outside of work should be in place. This could establish boundaries in relation to when electronic communication should be accessed out-of-hours.
The researchers also note that if a job requires personnel to check in on electronic communisation, this should be laid out clearly in the job description and that boundaries must be set.
The new research has been published in the journal Academy of Management Proceedings. The research paper is titled “Killing me softly: Electronic communications monitoring and employee and spouse well-being.”
The new research has been published in the journal in Forensic Science International. The paper is headed “A novel application of terrestrial LIDAR to characterize elevation change at human grave surfaces in support of narrowing down possible unmarked grave locations.”
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