Are we becoming slaves to our inbox, both at work and at home?

Published On: July 5, 2016 10:06 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

We live in a digital realm where emails have an invasive tendency to co-exist between our personal and professional space. As we are bombarded with emails each day, we can’t stop ourselves from constantly scrolling our phone, or get perked up hearing the push button notification sound even when it’s not our working hours. We asked few professionals about how often they attend their official email after work and how it has 
affected their private life. This is what they had to say:

Richa Bhattarai 
Communications Coordinator
Save the Children

I like to maintain a balance between my personal and professional life. Recently, I have been trying to avoid checking office emails at home because I realized that it kind of hampers my family life. I cannot really maintain concentration on my work while at home, either. I generally check my work emails at my office’s laptop, so I make sure that I don’t carry it home. I only carry it along with me once or twice a month when there’s an important event coming up, or if there are any media-related works pending. But it doesn’t mean I devote all my off-duty hours tending to my office work. I usually try to get over and done with it in an hour’s time, no matter how urgent or important it is.

Binod Gautam 
Creative Director 
Feature Studios 

I don’t follow a rigid 10 to 5 work schedule but I try to handle all my clients’ email queries at the office itself. So there are times when I stay back at the office as late as 8 p.m. At home, I try to avoid responding to work related emails. This can be really challenging because given the nature of my job, which includes IT solutions to multimedia production, I have to maintain multiple email accounts, and notification alerts never seem to stop. As I suffer from a certain type of OCD which makes me go to extreme extents to keep a clean inbox, I am sometimes traumatized by such emails.

Evelyn Moktan 
Operations Manager 

My actual working hours is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. But since our company caters its services to development organizations all over the world and promises a 24/7 service, I need to check my email frequently even when I’m off duty. Due to the difference in time zone, and because Sunday is normal working day for most offices in Nepal, I need to make sure there aren’t important emails from our clients needing immediate response. While things like documentation can be put on hold until another working day, there are lots of troubleshoot issues that need to be addressed ASAP. Sometimes, in the middle of a family dinner, I see notification of an important email on my phone. So instead of enjoying quality time with my family, I start writing back, or make arrangements to address the issue mentioned in the email. There are times when I don’t find enough sleep, and there are days when I find myself too stressed. However, it isn’t all that bad either. More often than not, I know when to expect an email from clients abroad, so I’m mentally prepared. My bosses allow me to work from home at times, and even send me off on short holidays to help me de-stress, which are perks offered to very few employees. So I’m not complaining much!

Dr Sudhamshu Dahal 
Assistant Professor
Kathmandu University, School of Arts

We live in such times where emails can easily cross exist between our personal and professional life. In a way, it has made the concept of office hours go obsolete. Usually I get volumes of emails, from student inquiries to important newsletters of email groups that I have subscribed to. Some emails might need my urgent attention. Still, the email overload hasn’t interfered with my personal life, partly because I have developed a habit to properly label and categorize my emails, and also because I go offline every night and try to attend my emails at a specific time in the morning.

Upaj Bhattarai 
Operations Director 
Next Generation Nepal

I use different mailing addresses for personal and office use, but I receive all my emails in the same mailbox. Therefore, I manually check my inbox every one to two hours on my mobile phone after office hours because I don’t have push notifications on. The prime reason I check my email is because I need to make sure there aren’t any urgent files that need reviewing, or updates regarding operational matters. It has become a sort of habit, like using Facebook and other social media tools. I guess living in a modern age means you cannot dissociate yourself from technology. Also, I don’t think it has affected my personal life, because I don’t have to give up on things to tend to my work emails. 

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