Modern technology has shackled us to our work and it’s taking its toll on our health. The culture of being at the office’s every beck and call is causing high levels of stress for employees, particularly those who use their smartphone’s push notification which alerts a user to a new email.
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“Those who told us they check their email very early in the morning or very late at night reported feeling very high levels of pressure,” explains lead author Dr. Richard MacKinnon.
The research, which was conducted by the London-based non-profit organization Future Work Centre, found that there is a strong set of statistical relationships between how people use email and work-related stress.
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According to scientists, many people developed bad habits in regard to managing emails. Nearly half of the participants used push notifications to get messages, while 62 percent were leaving their inbox open for the whole day and 16 percent of singles were regularly checking email between midnight and 3 a.m.
“There is a great deal of evidence that demonstrates how ongoing stress impacts our psychological and physical health,” MacKinnon adds. “Everything from sleep disturbance to relationship problems; it’s a major cost to society and organizations. We’re not saying that email will automatically negatively impact employees’ health but we do caution that inappropriate use of email could contribute to pressure, which in turn, can lead to poor health.”
Researchers recommend people to regularly take a break from email and avoid having the application open all day. They claim it could be beneficial to access messages only when you really want to, rather than responding immediately.
“In fact, it could be better to turn off these notifications completely,” MacKinnon concludes. “Rather than being helpful, it could simply be a bad habit people have developed over time. And like all bad habits, it could be changed for the better.”
In the future, scientists plan to take the research forward by examining how email and other communications technology is helping employees with flexible working arrangements and examine the potential downside of an ‘always on’ work culture.