Technology has brought about many changes in our world. All-new industries were given birth or faded into history because of the information technology revolution. However, the information technology revolution was not a panacea and did not resolve all the world’s problems. It allowed businesses to become more efficient, improve operations and increase their competitive advantages (Porter & Millar, 1985). However, the rise of mobile communications, email, text messaging, and web platforms has increased the intrusion of business-related matters into personal and family time (McShane & Glinow, 2014, p. 8). It is becoming more commonplace for workers never to log off from work as the evening hours have become a new de-facto night shift (Butts, Becker, & Boswell, 2015, p. 763). Furthermore, this new always-on work environment has altered the relationship between management and employees.
Employees may feel obligated to respond to peers and management regardless of the hour. Management knowingly or unknowingly may be sending messages that establish these expectations with employees. Additionally, management may mistakenly believe that employees will leave off-hour communications in their inbox until the following workday.
Management teams should discourage off-hours communications. When this is impossible because of time zone differences or travel requirement, the utilization of a delayed send function is encouraged. At a minimum, all off-hour messages should clearly indicate whether the message needs a response before the next workday. Again, the preference is not to send messages off-hours or use a delay send function since many employees will still check messages off-hours.
By taking these small steps, employers can help their teams improve work-life balance and lower employee stress levels without sacrificing productivity. They might even find that employees are more efficient when they experience lower levels of stress.
Butts, M. M., Becker, W. J., & Boswell, W. R. (2015, June). Hot buttons and time sinks: The effects of electronic communication during nonwork time on emotions and work-nonwork conflict. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 763-788. doi:10.5465/amj.2014.0170
McShane, S. L., & Glinow, M. V. (2014). Organizational behavior (Third ed.) [Kindle].
Porter, M. E., & Millar, V. E. (1985, July 01). How information gives you competitive advantage. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/1985/07/how-information-gives-you-competitive-advantag