Science & technology
Using your mobile to check work email out of hours increases stress levels
Publish Date: May 07, 2014
Using your mobile to check work email out of hours increases stress levels
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USING your phones and tablet to access your work email outside office hours can dramatically improve your stress levels, researchers have warned.

The research could have major implications for those who work away from the office.

However, those who worked remotely also rated the quality of their lives as being better than those stuck in an office.

The Gallup poll found nearly half of workers who 'frequently email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress 'a lot of the day yesterday,' compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.

Gallup interviewed 4,475 working U.S. adults for the study.

It found time spent working remotely outside of working hours has similar problems, with 47% of those who report working remotely at least seven hours per week having a lot of stress the previous day compared with 37% experiencing stress who reported no remote work time.

'The unusual dichotomy in key well-being outcomes -daily stress and life satisfaction - and work-related mobile technology use provides evidence that such behaviours can both positively and negatively influence employees' well-being,' the researchers said.

'Even after controlling for all key demographics, workers who leverage mobile technology more often outside of work are much more likely to be stressed on any given day, while simultaneously being more likely to rate their lives better.'

The researchers said the type of job people have could also influence how they dealt with stress from emails.

'Job type may also be a factor in these results; more personally rewarding occupations for many people also may be the type that demand more mobile technology use and that typically come with elevated stress levels.'

Employers' expectations were also a major factor in stress levels, with 62% of workers having have employers that expect work-related mobile use say they use email frequently outside of working hours, compared with 23% of those whose employers have no such expectations. 

Just 5% of workers say they never email outside of work even in the existence of such employer expectations, compared with 30% who never email in the absence of those employer expectations.

A similar pattern exists for remote work.

It is possible that by emailing or working remotely outside of normal hours, workers associate such behaviours with greater professional success and accomplishment, thus elevating how they think about and evaluate their lives more generally.

At the same time, the elevated levels of stress associated with these behaviours may fall into what some refer to as "productive stress."

For some workers this type of stress may be a desirable emotional state that is associated with greater urgency and more productive work days.

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