Dec. 21, 2021 -- If you feel like you can never get away from your job and work email is pestering you on your day off -- even when it’s a holiday weekend or a long-awaited vacation break -- you’re not alone. A recent survey of workers suggests that more than 1 in 4 people feel obligated to check their inboxes and respond to messages when they’re supposed to be off duty.

And more than half of the workers who feel they need to manage the after-hours email say work takes a psychological toll.

This year, 26% of workers felt obligated to respond to emails, calls, and texts from their bosses during their time off, according to results from an Australian survey of more than 2,200 academics and staff at 40 universities released by the University of South Australia.

Endless work emails outside of business hours is also common in the U.S., affecting about 6 in 10 workers, according to a Gallup poll. The difference here is 91% of workers thought the amount of after-hours email was reasonable, and most didn’t find it impacted their emotional well-being.

In the Australian survey, it seems like this culture permeates workplaces. Half of the university employees surveyed said they received work-related emails, calls, and texts from colleagues outside of work hours. And 57% of the workers surveyed confessed they were guilty of sending texts and emails to their office mates even when the workday was over.

More than one-third of workers surveyed said it was the norm in their organization to reply to messages right away, regardless of whether they were actually on the clock.

Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that work emails take a toll on physical and mental health.

Fifty-six percent of workers who feel obligated to manage emails on their time off feel psychological distress, compared with 42% of their co-workers who log off company email when they leave the office. Similarly, 61% of people bombarded with work messages during their off hours felt emotionally exhausted, and 28% of them reported being in poor physical health.

Show Sources

Gallup: “Email Outside of Working Hours Not a Burden to U.S. Workers.”

University of South Australia: “Will you check your emails over Christmas?”

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