Did your boss email you over the weekend? If so, did he or she expect you to respond? And if you did respond, do you have a problem with feeling compelled to do so?

If your boss does send you work-related emails over the weekend, you can at least take heart in the fact that you’re not alone. According to a recent survey of nearly 600 North American workers by Right Management, the talent and career management arm of ManpowerGroup, more than two-thirds of the respondents said they’re in the same boat often or from time to time. Here’s the breakdown:

  •     Often: 37 percent
  •     Only from time to time: 31 percent
  •     Never: 32 percent

Michael Haid, Right Management’s senior vice president of talent management, noted that the convenience and pervasiveness of workplace technology are matched by its intrusiveness beyond the workplace:

For a growing number of workers their weekend is no longer their own and work is never far from their mind. Being tuned in to work seven days a week may become the norm, if it hasn’t already. We are unsure whether this is symptomatic the high-pressured volatile economy or just the new “business as usual” workplace. Having this type of “on demand” technology, reaching anyone at any time, definitely reshapes the thinking on what might constitute work/life balance as work life and private life may no longer exist as separate spaces. … It’s one thing to get broadcast or informational emails after office hours, but it’s now a given that everyone has to check their emails at least once a day, Saturday and Sunday included.

Haid advised managers to ensure that expectations related to communications are well understood:

If your work environment calls for employees to be in touch around the clock, then it’s important everyone shares that same understanding. But if you are a boss that’s working on the weekend because that is just your style and your only time to catch up, then let employees know if it’s okay for them not to respond during their down time. Part of resetting expectations for those who do fully expect weekend participation in work through technology is to allow a counterbalance for employees so that they may attend to personal things during the course of what used to be considered the “normal” working hours and days. If you expect your employee to work mid-morning Sunday then it is highly advised that you repay that time taken somewhere else in the traditional work week — say, for example, allowing that same employee to take mid-morning Wednesday to attend to personal things. The key is flexibility with time across the entire week, otherwise you add to the risk of employee burnout, lowered morale and reduced productivity in the longer-term.

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