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Working outside office hours makes us more stressed, but happier

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Step away from your smartphone! Using your mobile to check work emails outside of working hours can hugely increase your stress levels – but 62% of employees do it anyway because the boss expects them to.

According to a Gallup study of 4,475 working adults, nearly half of workers who frequently email for work when not in the office report experiencing stress “a lot of the day”, compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.

When people have employers who expect work-related mobile use outside of work hours, they report frequent emailing and high stress levels compared with 23% of those whose bosses don’t expect them to always be contactable. Just 5% of workers say they never email outside of work hours.

However, in what appears to be a direct contrast to the stress data, employees who email outside of work hours or work remotely from the office also rated their lives as being better than those who are stuck in an office.

“The unusual dichotomy in key well-being outcomes – daily stress and life satisfaction – and work-related mobile technology use provides evidence that such behaviors can both positively and negatively influence employees’ well-being,” the researchers said.

“Even after controlling for all key demographics, workers who leverage mobile technology more often outside of work are much more likely to be stressed on any given day, while simultaneously being more likely to rate their lives better.”

So why does more stress equal better-rated lives?

It is possible that by doing work from a smartphone outside of work hours, employees feel they are achieving more, and associate these feelings with professional success. Overall, this elevates how they feel about their lives in general.

The research also suggested elevated levels of stress associated with these behaviours could fall into what it referred to as “productive stress” – an desirable emotional state linked with greater urgency and more productive work days.

“Job type may also be a factor in these results; more personally rewarding occupations for many people also may be the type that demand more mobile technology use and that typically come with elevated stress levels,” the study stated.


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