Switching off reduces stress
Not checking work emails in your free time is the key to being happier and a more productive worker, new research has revealed.
If you go back to work after the weekend feeling more exhausted than before, you could benefit from cutting all contact with the office outside of working, according to a study that looked into how work-life balance can affect stress recovery.
Of course, most of us already knew this, but switching off is easier said than done.
Lead author of the study YoungAh Park from Kansas State University believes the rise of smart phones and competition due to dwindling resources is causing us to take work home with us and preventing us from properly recovering from office stress.
“People may worry about job security, want to increase their salary or advance in their career, so they feel they have to be more dedicated to their work. They show that by being available outside of normal work hours through communication and information technologies,” Park told reporters.
But checking emails or phone message from co-workers can cause you to stew over problems and negatively influence your partner and the rest of the household, says Park.
It might also make you miserable - the study revealed that people who do manage to cut all contact with work are happier and experience lower levels of fatigue and job burnout.
And despite the fact we think we’re being productive by checking emails at home, not recovering from stress properly makes them worse employees, says Park.
"Research has shown that employees who unwind from work stress during off-work times are better at showing proactive behaviours to solve problems and are more engaged in their work," she explains.
Park believes in order to detach from work outside of office hours it’s important to set rules for yourself and let your co-workers know you prefer not to be contacted at home except in emergencies.
"In the long term, ensuring employee recovery from job stress by detaching themselves from work is beneficial for sustaining employees' well-being and job performance capabilities,” she says.
So next time you think you’re being productive by checking a few emails on the weekend, stop and remember you need time to recover from stress in order to do your job properly.
Words by Fiona MacDonald
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