This paper aims to illustrate how a company's current 24‐hour e‐mail culture impacts on employees' lives outside of their contracted working hours. There are two objectives of the study – first, to calculate the average time spent on work e‐mails by employees per day outside of working hours and, second, to identify what impact e‐mail had on employees' work‐life balance by addressing three research questions. These questions aims to focus on the relationships between: employees' thoughts about company culture and their belief that their work is dependent on them checking their e‐mails outside of working hours; employees' urges to check e‐mails out of working hours and their belief that spending time on e‐mails outside of work means they are neglecting their social life; and employees sending e‐mails out of office hours and their expectation of a quick reply or action.
A case study approach was taken. Employees from a multinational service organisation were invited to complete an online questionnaire and a seven‐day diary so as to collect qualitative and quantitative data about their use of e‐mail.
Data were analysed with respect to respondents' gender, role and length of service in the organisation and discussed with respect to the current literature.
Although the limitations of exploring a single organisation are recognised, it is likely that some of the insights and lessons generated by the study will be transferable to other organisational settings.
This study identified some short‐term recommendations as to how a particular company could limit the negative impact that e‐mails have on its employees' lives outside of contracted working hours. In addition, this study will also raise awareness of the pervasion of work‐related communications into employees' personal lives and, hopefully, trigger further research into the long‐term psychological and sociological effects of a 24/7 communication culture.
There are two novel aspects to this study: the use of diaries as a method of data collection and the notion of exploring e‐mail use “out of hours”.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited