While digital technology has kept us safe during the pandemic, for millions of people, working from home has felt more like sleeping in the office, making it harder to fully switch off.
The right to disconnect has been law for six years in France, where companies are asked to set agreed “specific hours” for “teleworkers”. Ireland also brought in a code of practice last year, under which employers should include reminders in their emails to employees which indicate that there is no requirement to reply to emails out of their contracted working hours. In late 2021 Portugal also passed a law prohibiting employers from contacting workers outside of their regular hours by phone, message or email.
To figure out how many Brits do actually switch off after work, Fasthosts polled the nation to reveal the number of emails they receive averagely and how this affects them in their lives. As seen from the responses, seven in 10 Brits receive one to 10 work emails outside of working hours per day.
One in two Brits receive up to 4 work emails outside their working hours
Based on the research, a shocking 49.2% of respondents receive 1 to 5 work-related emails outside of their office hours. What’s more, one in seven Brits receives up to 10 after-hours work emails per day! Furthermore, 67% of Brits generally reply to after-work emails, while 16% say they always reply no matter what.
What’s more, 1 in 2 Brits admits that receiving after-hours work emails has a negative impact on their lives. This is not surprising as almost one in eight Brits spend up to three hours replying to these and sacrifice hours from their personal life! No wonder 46% of people in the UK experienced or felt on the verge of burnout in 2021, based on a Statista study.
Specifically, Brits voted that the after-work emails make them feel like they’re always at work (19.4%), like they have no time for themselves (17.6%) and their family (15.1%) and are worried that if they don’t reply this would affect their career (11.3%). What’s more, one in 25 respondents experience fear of missing out (FOMO) when they don’t receive after-hours emails and they feel left out of the loop if they’re not included.
Some respondents admitted that they feel like they are not important enough if they don’t receive emails after work. Even though only 1 in 25 feels this way this is a symptom of a culture based on this type of behaviour, which is quite worrying.
Interestingly, when asked if there should be a law in the UK restricting after-hours work emails, over four in ten (43.5%) agreed that there should be one in place, with most of them being women!
Millennials are the most affected and women receive more emails compared to men
Based on the findings, women receive more work-related emails after work, compared to men (51.3% and 47.1% respectively).
Despite this, both genders feel like they were always at work whereas men feel they are more likely to have no time for themselves or family, while women feel the pressure to work all the time or that not replying could affect their career. While all these show the negative effects of answering emails outside of work, it also shows an unfortunate perception that women feel they must work harder at their roles.
Our study also highlights that compared to other age groups, millennials spend the most amount of time replying to work emails outside their contracted hours and Brits aged 18-24 years old are affected the most from this, with 75% stating they receive up to 10 emails per day
Work is a crucial part of everyone’s life. However, work can potentially have a negative effect on our mental and physical health especially if employers do not respect the employee’s contracted working hours.
Nowadays there is a significant shift in the working environment with policies that promote a healthier work-life balance amid the rise of remote working. With more countries banning employers from contacting their employees outside their shift hours, maybe the UK will follow.
Our study showed that many Brits receive after-hours emails which affect them in their personal lives and as a result, most of them believe that there should be legislation aimed at minimising this problem.