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Stressed Out? Stop Working Late

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Employees who check email after hours report higher levels of stress. / Credit: Stress image via Shutterstock

Working remotely after leaving the office each day is stressing most employees out, new research finds.

U.S. employees who use mobile technology to do business outside of normal working hours are more likely to experience a substantial amount of stress on any given day than their peers who totally disconnect after clocking out, according to a new study from Gallup.

Specifically, nearly half of employees who frequently use their mobile devices to email for work outside of the office report experiencing stress "a lot" during the previous day. Conversely, just 36 percent of those who never email for work after they leave the office suffer from similarly high stress levels. [10 Personality Types Most Likely to Get Hired]

Time spent working remotely, on tasks other than email, outside of the normal workday was also linked with stress. The study revealed that 47 percent of employees who spend at least seven hours per week working remotely report having a lot of stress, compared with only 37 percent of those who never work outside of the office.

Despite their higher stress levels, however, employees who work after their day ends rate their lives better than do their counterparts who clock off on time. Employees who are considered "thriving," according to the poll's classifications, more frequently email outside of work and spend more hours working remotely, in addition to having higher stress.

Gallup classifies Americans as "thriving" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale of 0 to 10. Those who rate their present life a 7 or higher and their life in five years an 8 or higher are considered to be thriving.

"Even after controlling for all key demographics, workers who leverage mobile technology more often outside of work are much more likely to be stressed on any given day, while simultaneously being more likely to rate their lives better," Gallup researchers wrote in the study. "It is possible that by emailing or working remotely outside of normal hours, workers associate such behaviors with greater professional success and accomplishment, thus elevating how they think about and evaluate their lives more generally."

Regardless of outcomes related to well-being, such as daily stress and life evaluations, employers' expectations play a clear role in employees' use of mobile technology. The research discovered that 62 percent of workers whose employers expect work-related mobile use say they use email frequently outside of working hours, compared with just 23 percent of those whose employers have no such expectations. A similar pattern exists for other types of remote work.

The researchers said job type might also be a factor in these results.

"More personally rewarding occupations for many people also may be the type that demand more mobile technology use and that typically come with elevated stress levels," the study's authors wrote.

The study was based on surveys of 4,475 working adults over the age of 18, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.