Employees are spending a significant amount of time checking email after hours, with a large portion of workers spending far more time emailing outside the office than they do taking vacation.
This was the finding of a Samanage survey of 1,500 U.S. adults, which also found more than a third (35 percent) check email at least one hour a day outside of work hours, totaling more than 30 days of extra work per year.
About one in five respondents (19 percent) noted that they wake up to check work email very often, while 23 percent check email very often during dinner. Millennials are the biggest offenders in both categories.
Nearly 40 percent of Millennials said they have woken up to check work email.
"The most concerning finding from a productivity and work/life balance perspective was that the majority of adults do not have automation processes in place to regulate or control after-hour emails," Cord Silverstein, acting vice president of marketing at Samanage, an IT service desk and asset management vendor. "However, many employees are open to organizing email after hours to control these interruptions.
"With so many email automation solutions and rule settings available that companies and employees can access now, this finding was surprising. We know that putting processes in place help with workload, employee retention and, ultimately, bottom-line productivity," Silverstein told eWEEK.
Nearly 40 percent of employees do not have control settings in place to manage after-hours email; however, nearly half of Millennials ages 18 to 24 (47 percent) use advanced email settings to control, automate or organize their email.
"The advancement of workplace technology and pervasiveness of mobile devices keep people digitally connected at all times—which can lead to phone and email addiction," Silverstein said. "We know that unplugging after hours can be difficult and not realistic for most businesses or employees."
Rather than asking businesses and employees to switch off completely after work, he said businesses should help employees implement automated processes that can regulate and control communication happening after hours.
"It's clear that employees have a hard time putting down their mobile device and stepping away from work email after hours, and we don't see this changing," Silverstein said. "Getting control of this issue means employees should have access to the tools and processes that allow them to automate, control and assign their email. Technology can be a double-edged sword, but it also has the power to increase productivity and automate, giving employees back time in their personal lives."
Unless technology is used to intervene, he said, employees will continue to feel the need and expectation to waste their precious personal time checking and responding to work email that probably wasn't urgent or required them to interrupt dinner.