How to tick off your employees with tech

Even those resigned to integrating work and personal lives get mad about emails, texts after leaving office, UT Arlington study finds

alarm clock
Credit: Batholith (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

While you might think being "always on" is just a way of life these days, new research from the University of Texas at Arlington shows that people do get angry about texts and emails from the office when they're not on the clock.

The researchers surveyed 341 working adults -- found via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter -- and tracked their feelings over a 7-day period when they opened electronic work messages away from the office. (If you feel left out, take our poll below.)

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marcus butts University of Texas at Arlington UT Arlington

UT Arlington's Marcus Butts: "People who were part of the study reported they became angry when they received a work email or text after they had gone home."

Marcus Butts, UT Arlington associate professor in the College of BusinessDepartment of Management, is lead author on a study titled “Hot Buttons and Time Sinks: The Effects of Electronic Communication during Nonwork Time on Emotions and Work-Nonwork Conflict" recently published in the Academy of Management Journal. William Becker, TCU assistant professor of management, and Wendy Boswell, management professor at Texas A&M University, joined Butts in the study.

Employees most peeved about after-hours messages were those who actually attempted to draw a line between work and personal lives, according to Butts, who was inspired to research the topic after seeing his wife receive such post-work communications from her employer. “The after-hours emails really affected those workers’ personal lives,” he said in a statement.

Though Butts said even those people who do integrate work and life got mad when they received after-hours messages from work. 

The study includes recommendations for employers, such as how to word after-hours messages if you really must send them and restricting some communication for face-to-face interactions.

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