80% Of Americans Work “After Hours,” Equaling An Extra Day Of Work Per Week

Have you ever read news that sort of makes you want to cry? I have to warn you, that’s what this new study from enterprise mobility company Good Technology might inspire. The company polled 1,000 U.S. workers to get a better understanding of their mobile work habits. The results are not surprising: the line between work and free time has become so blurred it’s practically non-existent.

80% of people continue working after leaving the office (a figure which actually sounds low, if you ask me). Half of them do so because they feel they have “no choice.” Connectedness means customers demand fast replies. There’s no off switch. Half of respondents check their email in bed, starting at around 7:09 AM. 68% check email before 8 AM. And you wonder why people hate email so much? God forbid we get a cup of coffee in us before dealing with the latest work emergency.

The average amount of “extra work” occurring outside normal working hours is seven extra hours per week – nearly another full day, says Good. That’s nearly 30 hours per month or 365 extra hours per year. THANKS INTERNET.

Good also found email was seeping into other parts of our daily lives, too. 57% checked email on family outings. 38% at the dinner table. 69% can’t go to sleep without checking email. 40% do so after 10 PM. A quarter of respondents said overtime caused occasional disagreements with their partner. Worse, over half said it did not– apparently, work outside of work is so par for the course, we don’t even care anymore. That’s truly frightening.

It’s amazing that no one has seen this level of uber-connectivity as an opportunity to blow up email and start over. For example, why is a “vacation message” the only system we have to support auto-responses for those moments where we need to be offline? By its name alone, the current system tells us that the only way we’re allowed to ignore email is when we are “officially” on vacation. Meanwhile, our societal conventions tell us that ignoring a question is the height of rudeness. At the very least, we need to respond with an “I’m looking into it.”

Why can’t email in a team environment smartly route inquires based on who’s clocked in as “on duty?” Why can’t email support a status message field the way IM does? Why isn’t there a button you can click to respond to simple yes/no queries to head off the inevitable (and bothersome) follow-ups? At the very least, if you could send a “maybe,” the sender would at least know the email had been read. Why can’t email systems alert senders when you’re behind in your reading, aka “this inbox is overloaded, your email may not be read immediately?”

These ideas are off the top of my head – if someone actually began working on a such a system, the possibilities for radical improvements are un-ending.

Sad, sad, sad.

Image credit: mikeduran.com