Why we don’t email out of hours

By Katie Mitchelmore and Tom Dobbins on 13 August 2018

At Spacelab we have always put people first. Not only evident in our approach to designing spaces for the people using them, our people-first ethos is further ingrained in our own office culture. We aspire to create the foundations for each Labber to develop their ‘whole human’, empowering the individual to excel in wider life, as well as at work.

A recent Guardian article states that those who check emails outside of work “experience the greatest stress and report the lowest scores for wellbeing”, and that people should therefore avoid checking their emails out of working hours. We at Spacelab fully endorse this concept, and have done for some time now - with our “8 til 8” email initiative.

We know that we all need a break, we’re only human. Switching off from work - and emails - and allowing ourselves time to relax and refuel helps us to achieve that all important work-life balance, for both us and our clients, which in turn helps develop the ‘whole human’. This is why we introduced our “8 til 8” initiative, where we don't email or message after 8pm, before 8am or on weekends. With smart phones and flexible working hours there is an increasing expectation to be responsive at all times, so this rule gives us, our colleagues and our clients the time to switch off and take a well deserved break.

The article uses scientific evidence, from a study carried out by William Becker of Virginia Tech, to support the benefits of not checking emails out-of-hours. Becker carried out surveys to learn about a variety of workers’ out-of-hours email-checking habits, and how this correlated with their levels of anxiety and mental wellbeing. He found that those who checked their emails most frequently experienced greater stress levels and also scored the lowest for wellbeing. Interestingly, their partners also experienced higher stress levels as a result.

In addition to our “8 til 8” email initiative, we’re constantly looking for other ways to support our team’s wellbeing and help them take a break. Last year we introduced a new holiday initiative, where Labbers can take an unlimited amount of paid time off each year, working around their project timescales and deadlines, to relax and recharge when needed.

We also held our first ever ‘Lab Fest’, where we all headed off to a surprise location for the night, helping all the team switch off and escape the hustle and bustle.

Team holiday collage 2-1

A series of snaps from well-deserved breaks from across The Lab

We truly believe that taking the time to relax and recharge our minds helps us achieve a better work-life balance, and ultimately results in a happier team and a more developed ‘whole human’. Something we feel is paramount at Spacelab. Otherwise, as Becker concludes, “people will start to burn out, leave organisations, and have a lot more relationship problems.”

lab fest

Our first 'Lab Fest'

Topics: design, team, spacelab, architecture, workplace productivity, Office wellbeing, employeeappreciation, company culture