Why After-Work Emails Are Ruining Your Life

by Hollee Actman Becker
Originally Published: 

Oh, look—there’s a message from your boss. You click it open with only the slightest hesitation, skim it, close it, and then snap at your kid to hurry up with the freaking remote. Then you reach over to grab that wine bottle and top off your glass.

If receiving a work email after-hours pisses you off, you’re not alone. According to PsychCentral, a new study from the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington found that employees who receive work emails at home, after work, often become angry—and that anger can trickle down into their personal lives.

“People who were part of the study reported they became angry when they received a work email or text after they had gone home and that communication was negatively worded or required a lot of the person’s time,” said study author Marcus Butts.

The study tracked 314 working adults over seven days. According to Butts, the study revealed that there are two types of workers: the segmentors (who like to keep their work life and their home life separate) and the integrators (who always want the work 411). Not surprisingly, the personal lives of the segmentors were more negatively affected by post-work emails. The integrators also reported feeling angry, but that anger didn’t really interfere with their lives, Butts said.

So now what? The researchers suggested that a little training on the employer side—with things like figuring out the proper time to send an email and which topics should or should not be discussed—may help. “Smartphones and the accompanying culture of ‘always on’ has made after-hours communication ubiquitous,” Rachel Croson, dean of the university’s College of Business told PsychCentral. “But like everything else in business, it can be done well or badly, and implementation is critical for success.

Here’s another idea: Stop checking email after-hours.

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