Like many bosses, Chris Mullen found the final hours of the weekend ideal for decluttering an unruly inbox, sharing stray thoughts with staff on projects and requesting status updates to prep for the week.
His colleagues felt otherwise. Those emails pulled them into the workweek the evening before, triggering the pre-Monday dread many working Americans call the “Sunday Scaries.”
“I asked my staff, ‘How come you keep answering my emails late at night, when you’re probably out with friends or relaxing at home?’” Mullen says. He recalls one employee’s response: “‘Because you’re the one sending it!’”
As The Wall Street Journal reports, workplace experts say such job creep has become a contributor to burnout—a phenomenon getting renewed attention since the World Health Organization included a more detailed description of it in the most recent edition of the International Classification of Diseases in May.
Some employers are addressing off-hours work creep. At telecom company Bandwidth Inc. in North Carolina, a vacation-blackout policy bars employees from attending to business during time off—forcing its 700 employees, including its chief executive, to pause projects or equip colleagues with the resources to cover for them, if necessary.
Health care consulting firm Vynamic created an email tool to divert messages sent after 10 p.m. into an electronic queue, to be delivered the next day at 6 a.m. The system, called zzzMail, goes dark Friday evenings until Monday morning.
Mullen says the exchange with his former colleague prompted him to change his Sunday email habit. Though he still occasionally drafts them on Sunday night, he waits to send them until the morning.
“There’s a power dynamic at play,” he says. “If I’m still sending you emails at night, as someone in a position of power over you, the team is going to feel the need to do the same.” Read the full story.