Study finds that email notifications are 'toxic' for stress levels

Emails have become a "toxic source of stress" for workers and are affecting productivity

Study finds that email notifications are 'toxic' for stress levels

Image: Lauren Hurley / PA Wire/Press Association Images

A new study from the Future Work Centre has looked at the relationship between emails and stress, and found that "email pressure" can be toxic for stress levels and affect productivity.

Email has become an indispensable part of the working day for many people, but a new study has shown that it may be causing workers undue stress. 

The report, issued by the Future Work Centre, highlights the existence of "email pressure" and how people feel they need to respond to or write mails on a regular basis.

The increasing build up of mail lead to people "struggling to prioritise work effectively and constantly being interrupted by the flow of messages and demands, resulting in decreased productivity and stress". 

The survey looked at 2,000 workers in the UK across a number of industries, how they respond to email pressure, and made a number of interesting findings about the relationship between workers and mails. 

They found that there was "a strong relationship between using 'push' email and perceived email pressure", while leaving your mail on all day, or checking it early in the morning or late at night would also increase this sense of anxiety.

They also found that a higher sensation of email pressure lead to "work negatively impacting home life and home life negatively impacting performance at work". 

However, they found that those who felt they were not as strong a worker or that they didn't have control over their environment reported higher levels of email pressure. 

Speaking about the study, lead author and Visiting Fellow at the Sheffield Business School Dr. Richard MacKinnon said "our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it's clear that it's a source of stress or frustration for many of us. The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure.

"But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and well-being". 

The report has a number of recommendations on how best to manage the stress associated with emails, which involve both employers and employees changing their behaviour and mindset when it comes to email. 

They include considering how much email push notifications on your devices are helping you and switching them off, and only launching your email program when you actually have to use it instead of leaving it open all the time in the background.

Via The Mirror