Drawing employee-manager boundaries after working hours

Managers contacting remote employees outside designated working hours is causing stress and burning out employees.
By: | March 23, 2023

The illusion of freedom that comes with working from home and flexible working hours could be just that – an illusion.

Instead, borderless workplaces are giving managers 24/7 access to employees where constant connectivity with managers is an expectation rather than an option, said RMIT University’s Professor Mayowa Babalola.

He added, “We found many are realising that the constant ping of Teams and late-night emails are bringing work stress and depressive symptoms into their personal lives.”

Professor Babalola is one of the researchers in the US, Australia and Europe who conducted a collaborative study highlighting how contacting remote working employees out of hours is causing extra job stress.

To avoid employees burning out, he recommended that employers and employees introduce mechanisms and boundaries to cope with the intrusion of work into their home domains.

He also encouraged managers to consider the perspective of employees they are sending messages to. “This approach can be as simple as scheduling messages for the next day or making it very clear the receiver of the message is not expected to read or respond outside of their agreed work hours.”

READ: Build a healthier workforce by asking employees to take regular breaks

When all else fails, there is always the option of legislation, with the research team calling for corporate policies and laws to protect employees from out-of-hour contact and deter managers from contacting employees at certain times.

“While working from home and flexible work hours can have many benefits, a line needs to be drawn so we can completely switch off from the stresses of work and recharge,” Professor Babalola concluded.