What do you do once you get home from work? Do you drop onto your sofa to unwind with your favourite TV show? Take the edge off by listening to music while cooking dinner? Or do you immediately open your work emails the moment you get in and start replying to them?

Work is an important part of everyday life, but it shouldn’t dominate every waking moment. Despite there being a growing understanding and value placed on mental health, a darker side of work is starting to reveal itself, one where people never switch off.

Even something as minor as checking your work emails during dinner is enough to switch your mind back into work mode, rather than allowing yourself time to focus on yourself, friends, and family.

To find out how receiving after-work emails affects us Brits, we polled 2,000 office workers of all ages, genders, and professions, revealing the percentage of those who dive back into their inbox, even at home.

The average number of after-work emails Brits receive

Our findings uncovered a few interesting points:

  • A shocking 49.2% of respondents receive anything from 1 to 5 work-related emails outside of office hours
  • A total of 70% of those we spoke to said this is sometimes as high as 10 per day!
  • 67% of Brits generally reply to after-work correspondence
  • 16% say they always reply no matter what

If this wasn’t proof enough that after-work emails are harmful to our health and personal time, 74.6% of Brits admit to spending up to 3 hours per day replying, and 12% confess to spending even longer.

In fact, 4% even experience FOMO (the fear of missing out) if they don’t receive any post-work emails, seeing a quiet inbox as a bad thing.

A closer look at our data reveals the unfortunate truth that 1-in-2 Brits feel that receiving and answering after-work emails has a negative impact on their personal lives, with 9.8% saying it greatly affects them.

The four main ways Brits feel after-work emails impact their lives includes:

  • A constant sense of being at work
  • A lack of time for themselves
  • A lack of time for family and friends
  • That not replying might impact their career

Thankfully, not all our respondents feel the need to answer emails after work – 41.6% of those we spoke to said they spend less than an hour outside of work in their inbox or on work chats.

And, 1-in-2 said that not receiving after-work emails was a positive because it showed that their company respected their personal time. Proof perhaps that the view on sending emails outside of work is changing for the better.

Which gender is more affected by after-work emails?

When it comes to the amount of time spent answering emails after work, there's little difference between men and women. Roughly 74.4% of both spend 3 or more hours replying to emails, feeling the need to answer each one.

According to our research:

  • As many as 72.8% of men and 69.3% of women are affected by after-work emailing
  • Around half of the men (47.3%) and women (51%) receive up to 5 emails after work on a daily basis
  • 69.9% of men and 64% of women are quite likely to respond
  • 18% of men and 13.3% of women always reply

Interestingly, after-work emails impact men and women slightly differently. While post-office communication leaves them both feeling like they can never switch off from work, men feel they have no time for themselves or family, whereas women feel pressured that not replying could affect their career.

And when asked if there should be a law preventing emails after work, 43.5% of Brits agree, with respondents being predominantly women.

What age group spends the most time replying to emails?

While many of the typical email-answering jobs employ plenty of people reaching the prime of their life, the generation most likely to answer emails after work is millennials.

In fact, Brits aged 18-24 are more affected by answering evening emails than any other age group, with 75% stating they receive up to 10 per day. While this could show a desire from new workers to make a positive impact in their new role, it could also present a potential for unhealthy work habits later in life.

The profession that can’t switch off

Much to our surprise, research showed that the profession most likely to continually check and answer emails after work hours is the energy and utility industry.

While we might think that those in an office setting are more likely to receive out-of-work emails, on average, those in the energy and utility industry receive up to 6 to 10 daily. This is the highest of any profession we surveyed, but makes sense when you consider how many energy and utility problems can occur outside of working hours.

While not every Brit feels the need to glance at their inbox once out-of-office, post-work email culture still negatively affects many people in the workplace. A healthy work-life balance is more important than ever, so if you’re feeling like after-work emails are overwhelming you, it’s okay to step back and leave your inbox closed.

All of our email products make it simple to manage your mail settings, including setting up autoresponders for when you're out of office – enjoy your time off without having to worry about replying to every work email. We have everything you need with our Email Hosting or you can get even more with Exchange Email.

And if you're looking for more good reads, visit the Fasthosts blog for a range of in-depth pieces on enhancing your online presence! Get in touch today to see how we can help you.