Whether you’re heading into what you hope is a work-free weekend or scanning your phone on the morning or evening commute, here’s a topical study for you.
Company bans on workers accessing their emails out of office hours could actually harm employee wellbeing. Hmm. Yes, we raised our eyebrows, too.
The research, led by the University of Sussex, suggests that while blanket bans could help some workers achieve certain goals, they can impede other people’s progress towards their own targets.
In particular, employees with high levels of anxiety might end up feeling more stressed, with an accumulation of emails making them feel overloaded, the study warns.
So, what’s the solution? We asked readers on Twitter for their thoughts. Some are understandably keen to protect themselves from “always on” culture.
Others say sending emails out of office hours is actually fine, as long as your boss or colleagues don’t expect a reply from you when you’re out at the pub – or simply trying to get an early night.
And what about parents? One mum pointed out that a ban would make it harder for her to work flexibly around childcare.
Angharad Salazar Llewellyn, founder of the small business collective The Flex Network, suggests a solution if you do need to send emails outside of office hours could be to use the “delay send” function, available on Gmail, Outlook and some other email providers.
“To avoid burnout, the focus should be on respect, trust and collaboration. Having the support to feel on top of your workload in a manner that suits the individual’s circumstances, enabled by advancements in technology, is all part of a positive working future,” she tells HuffPost UK.
It’s a sentiment echoed by the study’s lead author Dr Emma Russell, who says organisations should personalise work email recommendations according to the different goals that different people value.
This comes after Volkswagen configured servers so emails are only sent to employees’ phones half an hour before the start and after the end of the working day – and not during weekends.
Meanwhile, Lidl bosses in Belgium banned all internal email traffic between 6pm and 7am the following day to help staff enjoy their time off.
“The take-away for the public from our research is that ‘one size fits all’ solutions for dealing with work email are unlikely to work,” Dr Russell said.
“People need to deal with email in the way that suits their personality and their goal priorities in order to feel like they are adequately managing their workload. When people do this, these actions can become relatively habitual, which is more efficient for their work practices.”