Hybrid Working: the Impact of the Rise of Out-of-Hours Email on Wellbeing

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Sending and receiving emails outside of work hours has been an issue in workplaces for many years. With an increased number of people working remotely, this issue has only intensified.

One study conducted by Fasthosts in 2022 revealed that almost half of British office workers were receiving 5–10 work emails outside of their contracted hours every day. Most respondents also said that they tend to reply to them. Meanwhile, another study concluded that the increase in emails both during and after work has meant that the average workday is now almost 50 minutes longer.

This, coupled with hybrid working, has created an environment in workplaces where employees increasingly feel like they never leave work and need to be available 24/7. This can have a hugely negative impact on their wellbeing, with many struggling to cope with the pressure of always needing to be ‘online’.

Our own research has found that 51% of workers have said they’re less than a month away from burnout. After-work emails are contributing to the erosion of work/life balance. It is a growing problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

With this mind, how can businesses look after employee wellbeing, helping staff cope with the pressure of always needing to be ‘online’?

What employers can do to help

Workplace culture is more important than ever. Building lasting habits is key to improving your employees’ wellbeing and making your business more appealing to potential recruits.

In the case of out-of-hours emails, all employers and team leaders need to play their part in discouraging this practice from continuing and introduce policies that help re-establish the lost boundaries between work and home.

Whilst many recognise this, according to one poll by Wellbeing Partners, only 20% of HR Managers reported that their organisation had policies in place to stop or discourage after-work emails.

An example of an easy to implement policy is the introduction of screen time limits. Push notifications on mobile devices can also be turned off to help employees to truly ‘switch off’ after work.

Employers need to take a proactive approach to create a consistent and health-focused culture that benefits their employees.

Focusing on workplace wellbeing also requires a flexible approach, with varied health and wellbeing policies that can fit around the individual needs of both office and home workers.

As working habits continue to shift and evolve, prioritising wellbeing will benefit your people, support their mental health, and build a team who are happier and more engaged.

You can download Westfield Health’s 2022 Wellbeing Trends Report here.

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