Researchers from London-based Future Work Centre, a British workplace psychological research group, studied the effects of email on 2,000 U.K. workers and discovered that automatic push notifications causes higher levels of stress in comparison to check emails at set times.
The study, which was presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology, concluded that checking email late in the evening and early in the morning could also negatively effect mental health and add more stress in the daily lives of study participants.
“Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword,” states lead author Dr. Richard MacKinnon. “Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us.”
Interestingly, participants who saw the highest value in automatic push email notifications also showed the highest levels of perceived email pressure. A higher pressure to immediately answer all emails, researchers say, is likely to eventually affect a participant’s personal and professional life.
“The habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and well being,” says MacKinnon.
IT, marketing, public relations, Internet and media professionals were most likely to be affected by email stress, according to the report.
As a precaution, Future Work Centre recommends that users only launch their email services when they intend to use it so that it is not constantly running in the background.