Bringing Work Home
Does your bed have room for three? You, your partner, and your workload that is.
Armed with hyper-portable featherweight laptops and an invisible tether that binds us to our smartphones, work isn’t just for the office anymore. It can happen any time, anywhere. Clocking extra hours from the comfort of home has never been more doable: Some even posit that the divide between work and the rest of people’s lives has all but evaporated.
Of course, this new convenient workforce reality is not without its sinister implications: Long hours are bound to chip away at a couple’s closeness over time. With that knowledge as a springboard, we set off to examine the relationship between the number of hours people clocked bringing their work home and their level of sexual satisfaction, among other insights into the types of tasks that people are bringing home.
Read on to learn more about the many ways in which our work life and sex life can come to blows when they unfold under the same roof.
Marketing and advertising never sleep, and the same applies to quite a few of its practitioners. More than 86.7 percent of individuals in this industry brought work home, averaging an additional 6.3 out-of-office work hours per week. Advertising is an industry that is known for high levels of employee burnout in the face of extreme workloads and sky-high expectations. The marketing sector is not immune to this phenomenon either, with financial worry and work-related issues accounting for the majority of burnout-precipitating stress.
Three industries were essentially tied for second place based on the number of employees who were brought their work home. More than 3 in 4 education professionals reported doing “homework” after the workday ended. As yet another profession that is notorious for running its staff ragged, American schools are currently struggling with teacher shortages due to the job’s all-consuming nature.
While slightly fewer people in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry brought their work home with them (73.6 percent), they clocked the most supplementary hours per week, at 8.2 on average.
More Money, More Problems
Logic would dictate that the more time one spends at the office, the less work they have left over to bring home. Unfortunately, that was not the case for our survey participants. Save for the part-time crowd (working 20 hours or less per week), the more hours that people put in at the office, the more likely they were to be taking work home with them. For those clocking more than 50 office hours per week, almost 77 percent had more work to complete at home. In comparison, the same applied to just 61 percent of employees working between 21 and 30 hours.
A nearly identical trend revealed itself when the data were sliced by income level. The lowest earners (less than $15,000 per year) brought home more work than the second-lowest earners, but as income levels increased, the percentage of workers in each category who needed to pop open their computers after hours climbed in an essentially linear fashion.
As it turns out, a good chunk of this overtime is likely to bleed into people’s coveted weekend time. A 2017 study found that about 70 percent of Americans worked at least one weekend a month, and over 60 percent said their boss expected them to log hours on Saturdays and Sundays. In our survey, we saw that salaried workers were much more likely to bring work home than hourly employees, to the tune of 78.7 percent versus 51 percent.
Race to the Finish Line
It’s a race to beat the clock: Taking care of unfinished work was far and away the most common motivator for our respondents to clock extra hours at home, at 65.7 percent. Strict deadlines in counted for another 50.7 percent of participants’ after-hours involvement.
If you’re feeling the pressure of looming deadlines nipping at your heels, there are ways to get ahead: Try breaking the task down into more digestible parts, give yourself a little extra padding by building in a time buffer, and simply get started. Often, that’s the hardest part.
While employer expectations were the third-most common reason for bringing work home (28.4 percent), feeling extreme pressure to deliver is likely to underpin many more work stresses than meet the eye. One recent study revealed that more than half of American workers experience stress at work on a daily basis – two of three main drivers being large workloads and pressure-filled deadlines, which you may recognize from our own survey.
For those battling stress at work, the American Psychological Association has some helpful tips for restoring a sense of calm.
Something’s Got to Give
There are only 24 hours in the day, which means that with every additional task or project you take on, something else is being bumped off. For 48.7 percent of our respondents, that something was their sleep.
Pulling an all-nighter once in a blue moon may leave you with a burning desire for coffee in the morning, but that’s typically the extent of it. However, a more frequent pattern of sleep deprivation can lead to a slew of very real physiological consequences, including memory issues, trouble concentrating, and a weakened immune system.
Recreation was next on the chopping block, with 45.2 percent of people reporting nixing this form of personal time in favor of at-home work. Another 36.9 percent sacrificed spending quality time with their partner. If the latter sounds like you, here’s how you can restore balance in your romantic life.
If you’re thinking that burning some midnight oil at home to advance your career could somehow improve your love life, well then, you might want to rethink that strategy. Respondents who sacrificed time with their partner to catch up on work were about 38 percent more likely to say they were dissatisfied with their sex lives. Occasionally leaving that pile of papers or your laptop at work just might lead to more satisfying “cuddle time” with your partner.
Our respondents also were guilty of letting dishes pile up in the sink, delaying visits to the gym, or postponing time with friends so they could make more time to bring work home. Just 8.9 percent made no concessions when working from home was factored into the equation.
Overtime Engagement, by Gender
We also wanted to know the specific tasks our respondents knocked out after hours. Were they sending a rogue email here and there, or moving mountains for their employer around the clock?
Among women who brought work home, nearly 80 percent focused on projects, while 64.7 percent flipped through work emails or messages in bed at night.
“Inbox addiction” is a very real affliction for members of the modern workforce, and email-checking seems to know no bounds: One study found that nearly 70 percent of people check their email while watching TV, 45 percent indulge in some bathroom email review, and 39 percent integrate it into their getting-ready-and-sipping-coffee morning routine.
That being said, both men and women exhibited fairly low rates of checking business messages while eating, amounting to less than half of respondents in both camps. The one at-home work activity that men performed at a higher rate than women was taking phone calls, at a rate of 60.4 percent – however, that may soon change, given a newly tabled bill that aims to make it illegal for employers to contact staff after regular work hours.
We’ve already seen where bringing work home can negatively impact people’s sex lives, and gender and relationship status can also play a role. It turns out the men who bring extra work home come out on the short end of the stick. Coupled men who brought the office home had sex fewer times each month than their buddies who didn’t.
The After-Hours Trade-Off
The blurring of lines between work life and home life can lead to a downward sexual spiral for some couples.
Even for those who are sexually satisfied, for every minute you might spend flipping through work emails or ruminating on an office conflict in bed, that’s one less minute you’re spending getting close and personal with your partner.
For example, 83.6 percent of those who were sexually satisfied said they didn’t check work email or messages in bed at night. Comparatively, only 74.5 percent of those who did this were sexually satisfied. Sometimes, it may be unrealistic never to expect the need to take or receive an email or business phone call during personal time, but some basic etiquette rules can make life easier and more productive for everyone.
Would it shock you to learn that bringing working home could be detrimental to your mental health? A recent study showed that opening those pesky work emails at 3 a.m. might be slowly killing you.
That may be a slight exaggeration, yet consistent work-related stress has most definitely been associated with many health issues including unhealthy eating habits, high blood pressure, and mental and emotional problems. So instead of checking work emails at all hours, try using your smartphone or watch to set aside time for relaxation, exercise, or a favorite hobby.
We also observed a stark inverse correlation between how often people shoehorned in a bit of work during a day off and how frequently they had sex: Those who reported never working on their days off slept with their partner 10.2 times a month on average, whereas those who always or often blended work and rest only got intimate 6.6 times per month.
Sex is many things: It’s romantic, it’s intimate, it’s a bonding experience that brings partners closer together … but arguing about work-related issues is probably a sure-fire way to dampen an erotic mood.
Not only can work brought home affect your sex life but also it can fire up arguments and fights between partners.
When asked if the subject of prioritizing work over their partners ever led to arguments, 26.7 percent of respondents indicated that it had. Another 24.5 percent mentioned that their partner “venting” about office issues had also caused some fights.
And there’s probably not a better way to chill your partner’s frisky mood than by answering an email from your colleague while in bed. According to roughly 23 percent of respondents, this caused arguments between them and their partners.
Other issues, like accepting too many after-hours work calls or reading messages during meals, proved to be another thorn in the side for those in relationships.
We also found that those who did not fight about work brought home were more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives than those who did fight.
If you’re a marketing or advertising professional working over 50 hours a week and earning over $100,000 a year, please consider taking a vacation immediately. According to our findings, these three categories possessed the highest volumes of people bringing work home with them, with many more salaried employees clocking overtime compared to hourly employees.
As suspected, blurring the line between work and play often leads to tension in the bedroom. Those who never worked on their days off had more sex than those who dipped into their workload during “off” time or vacations.
What brought work through the front door in the first place? Tying up loose ends and tackling unfinished projects, according to the majority of our respondents, as well as tight deadlines and employer expectations. Unfortunately, this led to one-third of people giving up time with their partners in favor of getting the job done – hardly the kindling a healthy sexual relationship needs.
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We collected responses from 1,014 participants from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. All participants were either primarily employed in a workplace outside their home or their spouse or partner worked primarily outside the home. 92.6 percent were employed themselves. 70.3 percent of all participants were either engaged, married, or in a relationship. The average age of all participants in our survey was 34.98, and the standard deviation was 9.9. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 74.
Out of all survey participants, 64.2 percent were employed and brought work home.
Industries with fewer than 24 respondents were not included in the visualizations, nor were responses of “other” or “not listed.”
We did not weight the data in this study and we did not perform statistical testing on the results. Because of this, our results are purely exploratory and others should explore this topic further.
Our data was based on self report, which means it is inherently limited by issues commonly associated with self report metrics, such as exaggeration, telescoping, and other aspects of subjectivity.
Fair Use Statement
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