Your after-hours work emailing habit may seem innocent enough (and it might even be mandatory for your job), but it could be taking a significant toll on your stress levels, according to new research.
A Gallup poll this month found that heavier smartphone users experience more stress, but paradoxically, they also rate their lives better.
Previous research has found that many of us do use our phones to work after-hours: 83 percent of respondents to an Osterman Research Survey -- which consisted of 213 workers, half of whom were in the IT sector -- say they check their work email after-hours.
The Gallup data, conducted on 4,475 adult U.S. workers, found that almost 50 percent of workers who frequently use work email outside of normal working hours reported feeling stressed "a lot of the day yesterday," as compared with around a third of those who don't check work email after-hours.
In addition to after-hours email sending, working remotely after hours was also correlated with higher stress levels, despite the flexibility this type of working situation may offer. Forty-seven percent of those who work remotely at least seven hours per week report having a lot of stress yesterday, compared to 37 percent of those who never work remotely.
But on the positive side, workers who used mobile devices rated their lives more highly, and were more likely to say that they are "thriving" than their counterparts who do not email or work remotely outside of normal hours.
Taking a break from work email may also be beneficial on the job. Another recent study, this one from researchers at the University of California Irvine and the U.S. Army, showed that being cut off from work email might reduce stress and help employees focus.
“Email vacations on the job may be a good idea,” UCI informatics professor Gloria Mark said in a press release. “We need to experiment with that.”