A new study called “Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being" shows answering work-related emails during after hours can be stressful and can harm employees' health.
"The competing demands of work and nonwork lives present a dilemma for employees, which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives,” said study co-author William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business.
Becker and his team said their study shows that employees do not need to spend actual time doing work-related tasks during their off-hours to experience harmful effects. Simply knowing that they're known to be available to do work during their off-hours can cause stress and anxiety for the employees and their partners.
"Our research exposes the reality: 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries,' compromising an employee's and their family's health and well-being," he said.
The team hopes the study will encourage employers to have clear policies that allow employees to be engaged and present during their personal lives.