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Feeling Overworked? It’s Not You, It’s E-Mail

Disconnnecting from the office shouldn’t be groundbreaking, but for today’s workforce, it is.

Ruum Team

Camille Nguyen

February 5, 2019

3 min read

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What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Or the last thing you do before heading to bed?

If the answer is check your email, then you aren’t alone.

According to a 2016 Forbes article, 66% of survey respondents to a “How Do Your Time Management Skills Stack Up?” quiz said that the first things they did in the morning were check their email or voicemail.

Additionally, a report from the New York Times reports that the average New Yorker works nearly 49 hours a week (a number that is already higher than their counterparts in other major US cities) plus an extra eight hours per week managing their inboxes after work. That’s almost 52 hours a week either spent at a physical desk or a virtual desk.

Always being tuned into your inbox and work has become the standard for many employees of the modern workforce. Technology has made communication convenient, accessible, and virtually limitless. This has become a double-edged sword. On one side, technology has transformed the way we keep in touch with friends and family around the world by digitally breaking down borders and timezones, making a call between San Francisco and Tokyo as easy as one click. However, on the other side, it has also blurred the lines between professional and personal lives, where people feel compelled to respond and work after hours to stay on top of projects and workloads.

While email, texting, Slack, and other communications may be relatively new, the effects of not being able to disconnect and decompress are already being seen.

And they are not good.

Health effects from the inability to unplug have ranged from depression and fatigue to a variety of heart issues and even death, like that of Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern Moritz Erhardt in 2013.

With these problems and more in mind, being overworked is seemingly the new black in the business world  —  and that needs to change fast.

We aren’t the only ones that think so, either.

Achieving a work-life balance, or the lack thereof, has become such a leading issue in the modern business zeitgeist that cities and countries worldwide are working towards regulations and laws that will help employees walk a healthy line between their professional and personal lives. In 2017, France enacted the “right to disconnect,” a provision in the country’s labor law that is built on the idea that it actually may be advantageous for employees to not work round-the-clock.

Groundbreaking, right?

New York, with its average 50+ hours work week, isn’t too far behind France either. Introduced by New York City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. in 2018, the second “Right to Disconnect” bill proposes that private companies with more than 10 employees would be prohibited from requiring employees to respond to any electronic communications (email, Slack, text, etc.) during non-work hours. Companies that violate this rule will be fined $250. And while the fine may not break the bank for a number of large businesses, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to cultivating a healthier work-life culture.

There is more to having a fulfilling job and career outside of a never-ending stream of emails and calls. A whole world exists outside of our inboxes  —  it’s time for us to embrace it!

While you’re out there embracing it, how about taking a step towards inbox zero? At Ruum, we’re on a mission to take collaboration and project management into the cloud. So, we’ve built a powerful, lightweight, intuitive platform for teams of all shapes and sizes.

Sign up for free here.

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