Your Late Night Emails Are More Harmful Than You Think

Late Night Work Communication Can Be Harmful

We’ve become accustomed to convenience and immediacy. Technology allows for us to connect and communicate with virtually anyone, anywhere, and anytime within a matter of seconds. Email, for example, is a major staple in every professional’s life. Many have apps on their devices so that they’re constantly available. Some managers take advantage of this opportunity with late night emails. Problem is, as humans, we need some time to shut off our electronic devices to return to our normal states.

If you’ve ever worked with an overbearing boss, you may have experienced the dreaded late night email more often that you’d like to admit. Barring the one-off late night email for an event or project, managers run the risk of creating more problems than solutions by emailing outside operating hours.

Say hello to my little friend, anxiety

Have you ever felt a bit of dread when it comes to opening your inbox? You are not alone. Too many emails can cause anxiety. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Psychologist and author Ron Friedman weighs in on the negative effects of email: “The reason it can feel overwhelming to find lots of emails in your work inbox is that each message represents another demand on your time and another decision you have to make.” The last thing leaders should want is to create a fear-based culture. So the next time you’re up at midnight remembering a task for your team, consider sending it in the morning.

Too many pots on the stove

Your employees need time to recharge their batteries, which means they need uninterrupted time away from work to take a breather and enjoy life. When you send late night emails, it sets the precedent that your employees are meant to stay in constant communication with you. If your team is feeling the pressure to communicate with you beyond the scope of business hours, they lose the opportunity to recover. This leads to a drop in quality of performance, which can translate to burnout. “There’s no question that constantly checking email is bad for both productivity and quality of life,” Friedman adds. You certainly don’t want to wear out your talent as it could result in them running for the doors.

Ask yourself these questions before that late night email

Leaders, let’s give our teams some breathing room and save the emails for operating hours. Should you be inclined to rattle off an email in the middle of the night, think about the implications and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it so urgent that it cannot wait?
  • Can the employee change the outcome of the situation at that very moment?

If you answered no to these questions, the email can wait. Practice resisting the late night emails by writing down a reminder to send it in the morning. If this is the only time you have to send off the email, download a plugin to schedule it for the future or add “For tomorrow:” in the subject line. These seemingly small behavioral changes can go a long way in improving an employee’s work experience.