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Out of office? Stop checking your emails!

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Should there be a clear divide between work & home life, or is it reasonable for your manager to expect you to check emails outside of working hours? 67% of Irish employers think it’s a normal request, according to the results of a Cpl Employment Monitor.

The trend seems to be global. In the US over 50% of employees check email while on holiday, while in the UK 60% keep an eye on their email inboxes during annual leave. In a recent Twitter poll on our Cpl account over 60% of respondents said they check their emails during their holidays.

Emails have never been more accessible. They’re on our phones available to scroll through at any time of the day. It’s no longer unusual to receive an email at any time of the day – whether bright and early in the morning or in the middle of the night.

Here are some reasons you should avoid temptation and delete your email apps before going on your annual leave this year:

Why do we check our emails on holiday?

In a 2018 survey by YouGov 82% of employees stated their manager would not expect them to be contactable on holiday. So, while in some cases checking email might be expected by an employer, it seems to be more common that the need to check emails is self-inflicted.

If you do feel the need to check email on holiday it’s worth considering the risks to your health and your career. A growing body of evidence shows working outside your hours could be making you more stressed, and less productive.

Plus, if you’re always checking your email you won’t be able to fully embrace your time off. A lose, lose, lose situation.

Here are some of the negative impacts of checking your emails when you’re out of office:


Late last year an ESRI study, funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), found that job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8% in 2010 to 17% in 2015.

Switching off on holidays has been scientifically linked to stress reduction both during and after the holiday. In one study of workers even physical symptoms, such as headaches and backaches, of stress were reduced after a break away from work.

To reap these benefits the average person needs to remove themselves from normal routine and habits – such as checking email. Can you really relax if you’re reading updates from the office every morning?


Even if you’re not a stressed-out kind of person checking email can still be detrimental. The psychological benefits that come from switching off entirely lead to increased quality of life, which link directly to increased quality of work on the job.

Taking a break is also linked to increased creativity and innovation. If you’re worried about having too much to do when you get back, advance planning can help. Before going away make sure to:

  • Have a detailed holiday handover – start collating it early so you don’t forget anything
  • Be clear about who in your team is to look after what in your absence
  • Let any important clients or contacts know you’ll be away

This way you can arrive back to work safe in the knowledge that your inbox won’t hold any nasty surprises.

Finally, if you’re constantly checking emails how can you connect with your friends or family who you’re holidaying with?

It’s no surprise that a 2018 study found that the partners of those who regularly check email outside of work found it affected their relationship negatively, while often the person who checked their emails was oblivious to the impacts.

Do yourself, your employer and your family and friends a favour and turn off your email notifications for your next holiday.

Interested in more articles like this? Visit the Wellbeing section of our Career Advice Centre or get in touch if you have any career-related queries.