What happens when employees send emails after hours?
Their well-being tends to suffer and so may their performance.
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First, why might this happen so much?
- Email receivers overestimate senders' response speed expectations. (But a small adjustment can mitigate this!) (Guirge and Bohns 2021)
- Sending work-related email after hours decreases psychological detachment (Kubo et al 2021; Tedone 2022), increases work-family conflict (Tedone 2022), and lowers sleep quality (Kubo et al 2021).
- Organizational expectations for email monitoring (distinct from the sending of emails) is also associated with employee stress and anxiety (Becker et al 2019)
- Not good for employers either: may increase employee "time theft" (Xu et al 2022) and procrastination (Li and She 2022)
- Negative effects are stronger among those who feel more "telepressure", i.e. a psychological state characterized by a preoccupation and urge to respond to work-related messages (Tedone 2022), lower work-home boundaries (Barber and Jenkins 2014), and lower conscientiousness (Li and She 2022)
- Receiving after-hour emails that have a more negatively perceived tone seems to increase fatigue at bedtime (Minnen et al 2020)
- Smartphone use for work may be especially bad relative to other technologies like computers or tablets for sleep and depletion (Lanaj et al 2014).
- Research is almost entirely correlational and relies on self-reported measures