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A 5-minute read
Recently, while finishing up a marathon work week, my husband politely asked me to step away from the keyboard. In my excessive love for creating content and putting my thoughts to paper, I had let yet another cup of tea cool down while I switched between email and Twitter. I admit it. I enjoy this overload, but then again, I also love my tea. And the human beings on my team need to be creative. Creativity needs time to breathe. I decided to do some research on it- beginning by photographing my desk, and then luckily, I came across an interesting HBR article on why we require downtime. My husband’s office phone kept tirelessly alerted him to new emails while he continued to eat his apple. So maybe not everyone is affected, but late night emails really can hurt your team. Here’s why…
1. Sleeping and taking vacations increases productivity: Harvard professor Leslie Perlow’s research shows that disconnecting from your smartphone and allowing yourself some rest, can help you to increase your productivity. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, it’s true. People need breaks to recover in order to be able to enter into another period of intense focus.
2. Excessive stress lowers employee engagement: In describing this “productivity paradox,” Tony Schwartz, the CEO of the Energy Project says that companies have found high stress has led to employees being disenchanted or disengaged. This has a direct impact on their productivity, and hence the bottom line:
“A 2007 Towers Perrin survey of nearly 90,000 employees worldwide found that only 21% felt fully engaged at work and nearly 40% were disenchanted or disengaged. That negativity has a direct impact on the bottom line. Towers Perrin found that companies with low levels of employee engagement had a 33% annual decline in operating income and an 11% annual decline in earnings growth. Those with high engagement, on the other hand, reported a 19% increase in operating income and 28% growth in earnings per share.” (Source)
3. Downtime stimulates creativity: Companies like Google offer employees a 20% downtime or time to pursue projects other than their daily work, or even just go home. Research from the University of California at Santa Barbara leads one to believe that day-dreaming or other such non-productive activities can in fact increase creativity. Jonathan Schooler from the University stated,
“We always assume that you get more done when you’re consciously paying attention to a problem. That’s what it means, after all, to be ‘working on something.’ But this is often a mistake. If you’re trying to solve a complex problem, then you need to give yourself a real break, to let the mind incubate the problem all by itself. We shouldn’t be so afraid to actually take some time off.” (Source)
4. Emails make employees feel they never disconnect: Constant interruptions and buzzing notifications can make employees feel they’re never disconnected and tired. They can feel like they did a lot of work without being productive. Companies are taking note of this and a healthcare company Vynamic, in Philadelphia, has a new policy called “zmail”. Email is discouraged at night time — between 10pm and 7am during the week, and all day on weekends. If an after-work message is critical, employees are forced to think if they should call. Alternatively, they program their email to only send the messages they write during work hours. The likelihood that these messages are read and answered is also higher if they are sent during normal work hours.
So are YOU hurting your team’s motivation, productivity, and creativity with late-night emails? Send us the tips you use at your workplace to disconnect in the Comments section below!
About the author:
Upasna is Unified Inbox’s Digital Storyteller. She is the Co-Founder of Content Marketing & Branding Firm, Brandanew. Her previous experiences include: Rocket Internet, Experteer and McKinsey & Co. She has been a blogger since 2003 and currently lives in Ludwigsburg, Germany.