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Confessions of an email user

It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time when email did not exist. When people went home at the end of the work day, it meant they didn’t continue to do any work.

Nowadays, the work/life balance has become so blurred that one in four US workers admit to checking their emails at least once a day during their personal time, while 9.8% continue checking email in real-time before and after work.

The UK is no different, with 41% of workers checking their emails at least once during their personal time and a further 10.6% continuing to check their email before and after work in real-time.

This behavior is not just limited to English speaking nations though. A survey by Expedia in 2013 titled the “Vacation Deprivation Survey” found that Malaysia had the world’s fourth most dedicated workforce after India, Brazil and Italy. It showed that almost 90% of the country’s employees worked even when they were on holiday.

The reality is that modern use habits show that email is encroaching into many employees’ personal lives to the point where they simply cannot switch off when they leave the office. This can either be seen to be positive in light of the global culture we work in or a very worrying state of affairs where people ‘only live for work’.

Technology has given us all flexibility in the way that we perform our jobs, allowing us to work away from the office, at home or during unsocial hours. However, many doctors and medical professionals believe that employees eventually become burned out, stressed and less productive if they don’t have dedicated time away from work.

What do you think? Do you think you can actually ‘switch off’ from work when you leave or do you think it is expected that employees should always be available? Is is right for some people to check their work emails during important events such as a wedding or when a spouse is in labor?