1-10-18 8:54 AM EST | Email Article

By Leslie Albrecht, MarketWatch

A study examined the impacts of using mobile devices to work during family time

Resisting the impulse "to just check my work email really quick" when you're with your family could improve your career -- and your spouse's too.

New research shows that when an employee uses a mobile device to do work during family time, it negatively affects their spouse's job performance and job satisfaction.

The findings build on previous research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26653530)that found that workers experience more burnout and are more likely to leave their jobs when they use their mobile devices to work during off hours.

Researchers wanted to see if those problems extended to workers' spouses as well. The answer: yes.

"The relationship tension created in a marriage because of this device use ultimately leads the spouse to experience reduced job satisfaction and job performance," said Wayne Crawford, an assistant professor of management at University of Texas, Arlington's business school. He co-authored the study along with professors from Baylor University, Utah State University and Texas A&M University. It was published this week in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

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The study surveyed 344 married couples. Both partners worked full-time, meaning at least 30 hours a week, and both were expected to use mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets to work at home during off-hours.

Partners weren't allowed to see each other's responses. Both were asked how much their work life affected their family life, whether there was tension in their relationship, and whether that tension spilled over to affect how they felt on the job. Researchers found that the more a worker used his or her mobile phone or tablet to work during family time, the more likely their spouse was to report lower job performance and satisfaction.

That's because tension created by the mobile device use at home created a ripple effect that bled into the spouse's work life, Crawford said.

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Given the findings, companies may want to examine the impacts of keeping workers on a short digital leash, Crawford said.

"Having these expectations about mobile device use for work purposes during off time is creating negative experiences for everyone involved and that gets carried back to the organizations," Crawford said.

And businesses may also want to consider whether it makes more sense to focus on getting more done from 9 to 5, said Abdul Rasheed, chair of UTA's Department of Management. "That extra time spent on mobile devices after hours might not be worth it if the grief it causes results in productivity losses once the conflict is carried back to work," Rasheed said. "Businesses have to think about accomplishing tasks more efficiently while people are at work."

The study comes as some employers are rethinking the demands they put on workers outside of the office. France passed a law last year allowing employees to ignore work emails when they're not at the office (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/french-workers-can-now-legally-ignore-after-hours-work-emails-2017-01-01).

-Leslie Albrecht; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

01-10-18 0854ET

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