After-Hours Work Emails Are Shrinking Our Personal Lives

A new study shows that people spend a LOT of their personal time sending work-related emails.

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BY Geoffrey James - 08 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I write a lot about email marketing, so people send me all sorts of interesting data about how, when and why decision-makers open read and respond to emails.

I recently received an infographic from ReachMail (an email marketing vendor) revealing how workers use email they're not at work (or working from home) I've reproduced the infographic at the end of the post but, first, here are my observations about the data.

1. Email isn't the only game in town.

While more than half of the respondents felt that they receive more email than they did three years ago, 46% felt they're receiving about the same amount or less. I suspect this is because more people are using social media to communicate, even in the workplace.

2. Men find it harder to stop emailing.

Men are more likely than women (62% to 46%) to be sending work emails after 9pm and more likely than women (45% to 37%) to be receiving after-hours emails. Women are much better than men (43% to 33%) at ignoring emails while they're on vacation.

3. Millennials are smart about after-hours emailing.

While millennials get significantly more after-hours work emails than other generations, they're the least likely to be sending them. Weirdly, they're more than twice as likely than Baby Boomers (55% to 18%) to "feel important" when they get after-hours work emails.

4. Gen-Xers are doing too much after-hours emailing.

While Gen-Xers receive just about as many after-hours work email as Baby-Boomers (but significantly less than millennials), they're the most likely to be sending work emails after midnight. Why did the name "Alex B. Keaton" suddenly pop into my mind?

5. A lot of people aren't "really" taking vacations.

Almost two out of three (61%) of workers check email while on vacation and almost one of out of five (18%) check email frequently while on vacation. People on the West Coast are particularly prone (71%) to vacation emailing. That's way too much.

6. "Zero Inbox" is borderline OCD behavior.

People who try to keep their inbox clean of emails are spending way too much time thinking about emails. The best way to keep emailing from getting out of control, in my view, is to only check it periodically. Trying for "zero inbox" is letting email rule your career.