Checking work email outside office is killing your mental health

WASHINGTON — Do you check your work email account when you’re out of the office? You might be harming your romantic relationships — and your mental health — a new study from a Virginia Tech expert shows.

According to research by professor William Becker, even though you think checking your out-of-hours email makes you a good employee, it’s doing serious damage.

Research shows that while workers don’t consider this to be a bad thing, their partners sure as heck do.

“The competing demands of work and nonwork lives present a dilemma for employees,” Becker said in the study, “which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives.”

Bringing your work home with you increases the strain on everyone.

Even the anticipation of needing to be “always-on” depletes an employee’s mental health.

“… ‘Flexible work boundaries’ often turn into ‘work without boundaries,’ compromising an employee’s and their family’s health and well-being,” the study says.

Researchers recommend more boundaries between office and home life.

“Employees today must navigate more complex boundaries between work and family than ever before,” Becker said.

“Employer expectations during nonwork hours appear to increase this burden, as employees feel an obligation to shift roles throughout their nonwork time.”

“Efforts to manage these expectations are more important than ever, given our findings that employees’ families are also affected by these expectations.”

The study is titled “Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being.”

The study did not name journalism as a particularly impacted profession.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up