You should put a DAILY 'out-of-office' email on, scientists say

Why you should consider putting a DAILY ‘out-of-office’ email on, according to scientists

  • Researchers spent months analysing 62 separate studies on work emails
  • They recommend a daily out-of-office so senders known not to expect a reply

Beware, workaholics – answering emails at all times of the day could make you less productive and happy.

Experts now recommend everyone picks a time of the day when they need to switch off from their emails, and think about putting their ‘out-of-office’ on, so senders know not to expect a reply.

They advise better email ‘etiquette’, so that time away from inboxes is respected by others.

Researchers spent months analysing 62 separate studies on work emails, to emerge with four key strategies.

These strategies were selected from a list of 13, making the cut only if they benefited people’s wellbeing, like their work-life balance, and also made them more productive at work.

Beware, workaholics – answering emails at all times of the day could make you less productive and happy (stock image) 

READ MORE: the phrases people REALLY hate to see in their inbox (and ‘per my last email’ tops the list) 

The first strategy is to have boundaries, setting a time when you won’t check emails, sticking to it and telling people.

But also office workers should turn off pinging email alerts and prioritise important emails, rather than answering every insignificant message as soon as it arrives.

Additionally people should be civil in emails, which includes not copying in someone’s boss passively-aggressively when you don’t get an instant response, and keeping messages short and to the point.

Finally, they should keep work emails work-related, so colleagues don’t get distracted and messages are more efficient.

Dr Emma Russell, lead author of the analysis and an expert in organisational psychology, from the University of Sussex, said: ‘Email etiquette is not as well established as the rules for conversation, because we haven’t been doing it for all that long, but we need to understand how to be more courteous.

‘This means everyone should have time off from emails each day, and should not be expected to reply instantly.’

The researchers stop short of advising the French approach of banning emails out-of-hours.

Experts now recommend everyone picks a time of the day when they need to switch off from their emails, and think about putting their ‘out-of-office’ on, so senders know not to expect a reply

This is not right for some people, like parents who need time off for the school run and find it easier to catch up on work during part of the evening.

But they say people should set boundaries, for example including the hours they won’t respond to emails under their signature in messages, or setting an automatic out-of-office reply at certain times.

This was found to help people manage their workload and feel more in control.

People might think answering emails at any time, from midnight to 6am, makes them more productive, but studies included in the analysis suggest the opposite.

Therefore researchers say colleagues could use a shared inbox, so that emails are covered by the whole team, allowing individuals to take time away.

The researchers advise setting time goals, like checking email only every 45 minutes while doing a task.

But they say it is important to deal with and not ignore your inbox, deleting some emails and putting others in folders, to reduce stress and boost work performance.

The research paper is published in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology.

Exposure to blue light from phones and computer screens ‘makes it harder to fall asleep’

Leading Optometrist, Dhruvin Patel is a specialist in the impact of blue light on eye health – that is light produced by phone and computer screens. 

Blue Light can make it harder to fall asleep and have an impact on the health of eyes

Researchers say exposure to blue light could increase the risk of damage to eyesight and make it harder to fall asleep.

Patel shared his tips for minimising the impact from blue light while working from home or using screens. 

1. Work an arm’s length from the screen

Fully extend your arm and work from a distance – looking from your eyes to the end of your fingertips. 

Use this as a minimum distance to reduce the stress on your eyeballs. 

2. 20/20/20 

Simply put, every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for a minimum of 20 seconds at least 20 feet away. 

This will help to reset your visual systems and eye through any long periods of screen work.

3. Screen height

Height and level of your working screen can have a big impact on eye strain.  

Research has shown that it is better for the screen to be located higher than the users’ watching level – the middle point should be 5-6 inches below the straight line of the users’ vision.

This makes the space between upper and lower eyelid more open, often resulting in dryness of the eyes.  

4. Lighting

Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. 

Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage and intensity. 

If there is no way to minimise glare from light sources, consider using an anti glare filter.

5. Put a post-it note on your screen titled ‘BLINK’.

Normally, in a minute, we blink up to 20 times. This is controlled automatically by our central nervous systems so we’re not conscious of blinking. 

While on screens, this is actually reduced to 3-5 times a minute meaning our tear films cannot be maintained and the eye does not remain lubricated. 

A post-it-note on your monitor saying ‘Blink’ should help you consciously make an effort to blink. It’s simple but definitely works.

6) Consider your device

Usually the biggest, newest phone is best, but not for your eyes. An iPhone X is 20 per cent brighter than an iPhone 6 and emits higher levels of blue light.

This is the difference of a 100 per cent increase in harmful blue light exposure!

7. Remember to switch off

I would suggest no digital devices or artificial lighting after sunset. If you’re like most people, you’re probably sending that last minute email or finishing your favourite show on Netflix before bed.  

Try reading a book or start that meditation that you promised yourself you will do in the new year. 

Dhruvin Patel says you shouldn’t assume that ‘night mode’ or ‘blue shade’ on devices is enough to counter the impact of blue light.

He said this ‘has been proven to not aid sleep compared to a screen’s normal output’ and so even with it enabled you should still avoid the screen after sunset if at all possible.

Patel founded a company called Ocushield that produces screen protectors to filter out blue light based on his research into the impact of the light source. 

 Source: Dhruvin Patel (Ocushield)

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