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'MTSU On the Record' eyes limits on work email intrusion into family life

Filed Under: Faculty/Staff News

The double-edged sword that is professional email came under examination on a recent “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Dr. David Steffensen, assistant professor, Department of Management, Jones College of Business
Dr. David Steffensen


Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. David Steffensen, an assistant professor of management in the Jones College of Business, first aired April 27 on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and www.wmot.org.

You can listen to their conversation via the Soundcloud link above.

Steffensen co-authored research that shows digital technology’s continuing presence in our lives not only can be an impediment to work efficiency by interrupting an employee’s workflow but can also create stress in relationships with family members.

Among the study’s findings was documentation that smart phones, tablets, laptops and other devices have helped blur boundaries between work life and home life.

The negative consequences of this confusion have led to legislation in France, Germany and Spain to protect employees’ right to disconnect from the workplace.

Although Steffensen says he isn’t quite ready to endorse similar federal laws in the United States, he does suggest that private sector companies can establish written policies that make the boundaries clearer to employees and managers.

“Especially if you’re very reliant on email, and you know that you use it as a means of communication, if you can, set the policy that employees are not to respond to email after working hours,” Steffensen said.

“If they know that that’s the expectation, if management knows that that’s the expectation, then nobody’s going to get in trouble for that.”

Department of Management logoSteffensen’s study, titled “You’ve Got Mail: a Daily Investigation of Email Demands on Job Tension and Work-Family Conflict,” was published this year in the Journal of Business and Psychology. The study is available here to review as a PDF.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, visit the searchable “Audio Clips” archives at www.mtsunews.com.

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

Temp link to compare to WP site: mtsunews.com/steffensen-on-the-record-april2021