Technology blurs lines: Study finds use of mobile devices contributes to a blending of work and personal time, negatively impacting both
01/12/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

Put your phones down--- it looks like even adults can benefit from a "timeout" from their gadgets. According to the results of a recent study, employees who use their mobile devices to continue working at home often face conflicts in their work life.

Wayne Crawford, assistant professor of management in University of Texas at Arlingtonis also a researcher who is part of a team of authors that have determined that "using a mobile device at home for work purposes has negative implications for the employee's work life and also their spouse."

Crawford is one of five authors on the paper "Your Job Is Messing With Mine! The Impact of Mobile Device Use for Work During Family Time on the Spouse's Work Life," which was recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Crawford et al. surveyed 344 married couples, and each participant had a full-time job and used mobile devices or tablets at home for work-related tasks. "There is plenty of research on technology and how it affects employees," shared Crawford. He continued, "We wanted to see if this technology use carried over to affect the spouse negatively at work."

Based on the couples' survey results, the use of a mobile device during family time often caused "lower job satisfaction and lower job performance." (Related: 'Smartphone detox' shown to relieve stress and anxiety - similar to detoxing from other addictions.)

Crawford explains that it's not surprising to learn about conflict at home, especially since it's often caused by those who work even during "family time." He cautions that this only results in conflict at work for both spouses. Regardless of whether companies are concerned about the screen time of their employees, they need to keep in mind that the "relationship tension" that is due to their interaction with workers during their time off from work usually ends in "work-life trouble."


Abdul Rasheed, chair of the Department of Management, adds that the results of the study is "illuminating for businesses." Rasheed shared, "That extra time spent on mobile devices after hours might not be worth it if the grief it causes results in productivity losses once the conflict is carried back to work." He warns that businesses must try to find ways of finishing projects more efficiently during office hours so employees no longer have to keep working even though they are already at home.

Tips to maintain work-life balance

If you're struggling to maintain work-life balance, try some of the tips listed below:

  • Unplug -- Technology has made it easier to accomplish various work tasks, but being online 24/7 can still cause burnout. Remember that your personal time is important too.
  • Delegate tasks -- Maximize your team and distribute the work properly so you don't end up doing everything yourself.
  • It's okay to say "no" -- You don't have to do everything yourself. Being part of a team means learning how to work together, but you don't always have to say "yes" when you already have too many commitments.
  • Have a stable support group -- Maintaining healthy friendships is also important even if you're at work. Having a strong support system can even boost your immune responses to illnesses.
  • Be active -- Regular exercise offers many physical benefits and it can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle -- If you're in good shape, your stress tolerance increases and you'll take less sick days. Try to "eat right, exercise, and get adequate rest." Avoid drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes--- instead of helping you cope with stress they’ll only cause more health problems.

You can read more articles about how to use technology wisely at

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