The Drawback to Staying Connected to Work After Hours

Topic(s): job performance, stress, wellbeing
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: Digital connectivity for work after hours: Its curvilinear relationship with employee job performance
Authors: S. Ren, J. Hu, G. Tang, F. Chadee
Reviewed by: Grace Cox

With the increased use of technology, it is easier than ever for employees to stay connected to work during non-working hours. In fact, many managers encourage their employees to be readily available at all hours of the day. However, new research is showing that high levels of digital connectivity can have a detrimental impact on employees and organizations.


Between two studies, researchers (Ren et al., 2023) collected data from 780 employees and their supervisors over three time points to examine the nature of the relationships between digital connectivity, emotional exhaustion, and job performance.

The study found that at low levels of after-hours connectivity, employees experienced increased job performance and social capital (e.g., improved networking and connectedness), and lower emotional exhaustion levels. However, when levels of connectivity increased past a certain point, employees experienced lower job performance and social capital, and higher levels of emotional exhaustion.


With the changing nature of work, it has become normalized for employees to be connected to work more and more, regardless of the consequences. For organizations that want to prioritize both job performance and the wellbeing of their employees, this research offers some practical advice:

  • Clarify organizational expectations, such as the need for employees to respond to email or calls after typical working hours. Make sure that employees are not being asked to do too much, and that they instead have time to rest and recharge.
  • Work with employees individually to determine their “turning point” – or the point at which digital connectivity goes from being a blessing to a curse. Keep in mind that the right level of digital connectivity will not be the same for each employee.
  • Strategize recovery techniques for when employees start feeling emotional exhaustion. Encourage employees to speak up if expectations become too much.
  • Highlight the ways that digital connectivity extends beyond mere job performance, such as when it is used for building or strengthening social relationships. This will make digital connectivity feel like less of a burden to employees, enhancing the likelihood of positive outcomes.


Ren, S., Hu, J., Tang, G., & Chadee, D. (2023). Digital connectivity for work after hours: Its curvilinear relationship with employee job performance. Personnel Psychology, 76, 731-757.

Image credit: istockphoto/SurfUpVector