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The Truth About Our After-Work Email Habits

Topics: Data & Research

Sometimes, the very innovations that we hope will simplify our lives actually end up complicating them. Technology makes our world smaller by speeding up the rate of our communication, but that doesn’t necessarily make our work-lives easier or less stressful. Email is exactly this kind of double-edged sword. It comes with both benefits and drawbacks. But, through building better awareness of how email habits impact our lives, we can maximize the positive effects.


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A new survey from Samanage, an enterprise service management company, utilized data from 1,500 adults in the U.S. to help build a better understanding regarding work email habits. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings that were revealed, and think about how we might learn from that information.

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1. Checking work email isn’t just for the office anymore.

Although plenty of research has shown that it’s really important to take a break and unplug from technology a bit in the evenings, more than one in three workers surveyed (over 35 percent) said they check work email at least once a day, outside of working hours.

A few minutes here and a half an hour there – what’s the harm? But, it all really adds up. For example, if someone spends an hour a day outside of work checking emails, that totals 30 days of extra work per year. This is way more time than Americans spend on vacation, or doing a lot of other things for that matter.

2. Workers even stay tuned into email while they sleep.

These days, thanks to our portable devices, the work never has to stop. Even once we’ve climbed into bed for the night, many of us continue checking in with our work. The survey found that almost 40 percent of millennials said they had woken up to check work email. And, nearly one in five respondents of all ages (19.2 percent) said that they “very often” wake up in order to check their work email.

Getting enough sleep is really important. Staying connected to work in this way practically guarantees that those resting hours won’t be as restorative. These days, our sleep (or lack thereof) often affects our work and vice-versa. No wonder so many of us stay up at night worrying about the office, or even dreaming about the boss once we’ve dozed off. There is less and less of separation between work hours and personal hours, and it’s having a real impact on our lives.

3. Dinner is no longer sacred family time.

More and more Americans aren’t taking the time in the evenings to gather together for dinner and share the stories of their days. Even when we do sit down with our families for an evening meal, an awful lot of us bring our phones right along with us. According to the results of this survey, 24 percent of folks admitted to checking work email “very often” during dinner. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, the figure was closer to 40 percent.

Part of the problem stems from the seeming quickness with which we can tune in and out of our work in-boxes. But, the truth of the matter is that you’re simply not as present at home (be it during dinner, while you sleep, or at any other time) when you’re switching back and forth between home-life and work email. These habits are something we each need to assess for ourselves. After doing so, it’s likely that many of us will feel compelled to make a few adjustments.

Check out the full report on the survey results for more information.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think you spend too much time checking work email after hours? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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