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Work email: When it just can’t wait until morning

With the growing popularity of smartphones and business VPNs, it’s getting tougher and tougher to let an email just sit in your inbox unread for any period of time – even in what are technically your off-hours.

According to a study published Wednesday by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, of the 2,144 adults surveyed this spring, 96% used email, the Internet or cell phones, and 80% believed that the technologies have improved their ability to do their jobs.

But the flipside is 46% said these devices increased the demands that they work more hours, and 49% said the technologies make it harder to disconnect from work even in their off-hours. Half of the respondents who were employed and use email said they check their work email on weekends, and 22% said they check “often” on the weekends.

Now, whether or not this qualifies as an invasion on one’s downtime depends, I think, on what people’s motivations are for doing so. I tend to check my work email at least once every evening after I’ve left the office, and at least once during the weekend. I’ve never been told I’m required to do so, but I do it anyway, probably because I don’t see it as making more work for myself – quite the opposite, in fact.

I find that reviewing and replying to emails from home (or from my phone) in a timely manner makes my mornings a lot more bearable. I come into the office feeling like I’ve gotten a good running start on my morning’s activities and can focus on those, rather than on the constant cycle of reviewing, replying and deleting.

Have I ever stressed myself out in my off-hours due to my email checking? Sure, it’s happened, and I’ve cursed myself for not being able to fully unplug from the office. And I guess the extra email time does technically translate to “working more hours” on top of my normal office hours. But doing so makes those office hours a lot more productive and enjoyable.

Your take?

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