Checking work email at home is standard operating procedure for most white collar workers, even if not a structured part of their job description.
It is an act that feels both right and wrong at the same time:
Checking work email at home.
Unless you have a contract that specifies a requirement to be available for work purposes even when you are away from work, checking your work email account feels like both unpaid overtime and cheating on your family and personal time. But everyone does it.
According to a survey by the company Good Technology (reported in a lengthy story in the magazine Mother Jones), 68 percent of white-collar workers check their work email before 8 a.m. (which is before they are on duty at work), 50 percent check it while lying in bed either in the morning or at night, and 38 percent check their work email at the dinner table.
If you are against the idea of having employees check work email when they are away from the job, the statistics get worse when it comes to vacation.
According to the American Psychological Association 44 percent of American workers check their job-related email accounts daily while on vacation, and 11 percent check it hourly.
This is a relatively new phenomenon thanks to the advent and distribution of smartphones and mobile technology. It’s incredibly easy to stay in touch with everyone, including employers, so it is easy to maintain the relationship through daily contact.
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It’s just not a matter of contact, either. Technological advances make it easier to do work at home (which is why so many telecommuting jobs now exist) which makes it easy to finish a work-related task at home, even if you are off the clock. According to the APA, 76 percent of American workers who took work home did so without a formal pay agreement that required such behavior.
Of those who did take work home, 56 percent said they did it “to finish or catch up on work” and 32 percent said it was “just the nature of the job.”
How pervasive is the practice of extra hours work due to technological availability? According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 60 percent of smartphone users working as a professional reported 72 hours a week of job-related contact in a seven-day week.
What is not reported in the extensive Mother Jones story on the topic of off-hours work is the amount of time employees spend checking personal email while at the job.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.