Is checking your work email after hours hurting your marriage?

Is checking your work email after hours hurting your marriage?

How many times do you open your work email once you leave for the day? Do you feel a sense of obligation to monitor your inbox after hours looming over you?

You’re not alone. And being tethered to your work email around the clock isn’t just hurting you.

In a study titled “Killing Me Softly: Electronic Communications Monitoring and Employee and Spouse Well-Being,” researchers analyzed more than 140 sets of couples and found that relationships and home life suffer when individuals constantly monitor and respond to work emails.

Even if an employee isn’t spending a great deal of time away from work on emails, an organization’s expectation that its associates are doing so can have dangerous health effects, as well.

“Disconnecting from work after hours is essential to maintaining healthy work-life balance,” says Dr. Danielle Principato, a psychologist with Advocate Medical Group. “We all deserve distraction-free time with ourselves and our families. If we are constantly checking and replying to email while at home or when spending time with loved ones, the time off of work cannot truly be restorative. Relationships and work productivity will both suffer.”

So what can you do?

As employees, “if shutting off the email is not an option, then setting specific times to check it may help,” says Dr. Principato. “Believe it or not, there are phone apps (Forest, Mute and Moment are just a few) that can help keep you offline.”

And as employers, you should consider reducing expectations to monitor email outside of work whenever possible. While the researchers acknowledge this isn’t possible in certain industries, “nevertheless, organizations could set off-hour email windows and limit use of electronic communications outside of those windows or set up email schedules when various employees are available to respond,” they say.

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About the Author

Holly Brenza
Holly Brenza

Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.