Mind logoMore than a third of English and Welsh employees admit to checking their work emails outside of working hours, while 15% say they sometimes check them while in the toilet, according to a new poll.

The online YouGov poll of 1,095 workers, commissioned by mental health charity Mind, found that 38% of employees who receive work emails look at them outside of work hours. The poll also revealed that only half of respondents said that their manager respects that they have a life outside work. 

These findings are indicative of a culture of working round-the-clock, leaving many unable to switch off and achieve a healthy work/life balance. Mind is urging employees to leave their work at work, and encouraging managers to set a good example by not sending work emails outside of their usual work hours, wherever possible.

As well as interrupting personal lives, this relentless email-checking culture is making it difficult for people to switch off when they should be preparing for sleep. For example, 24% said that they sometimes check their emails before they go to sleep, while 19% do so before they’ve even got out of bed in the morning.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Despite our busy lives, modern technology means that many workers are now contactable around the clock. While many staff have to work outside their normal working hours from time to time, we all need a break from work to unwind and de-stress. Checking our emails outside work makes it difficult to maintain boundaries between our jobs and personal lives.

“It’s not acceptable for staff to be expected to send and receive work emails at all hours. Employers and managers need to ensure this relentless email-checking culture doesn’t become the norm.

“Encouraging a clear work/life balance is just one thing employers need to do to create a mentally healthy workplace. Staff are happier, healthier, and more likely to be loyal and productive if their workplace proactively promotes mental wellbeing. Employers can promote good wellbeing by encouraging staff to leave work at work so they can come back refreshed and rejuvenated.”