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New research shows that the expectations of work email monitoring during non-work hours could be detrimental to your health.

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While flexible working arrangements help many people achieve a more sustainable work/life balance, new research from Virginia Tech shows that it’s not all good news.

The research shows that ‘flexible work boundaries’ can often turn into ‘work without boundaries’ and that the mere expectation of availability increases strain for employees and their significant others. William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, co-authored a new study, “Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being,” showing that employer expectations of work email monitoring during nonwork hours result in anxiety, which adversely affects the health of employees and their families.

Becker said policies that reduce expectations to monitor electronic communication outside of work would be ideal. When that is not an option, the solution may be to establish boundaries on when electronic communication is acceptable during off-hours by setting up off-hour email windows or schedules when employees are available to respond.

Becker also suggests practising mindfulness for employees who need to reduce anxiety and be present in family interactions.

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