Employer Branding

Should You Check Business Emails Outside Working Hours?

On one hand, we know we shouldn’t really be taking our work home with us; that it’s important to uphold some real work-life balance in order to stay happy and refreshed. On the other hand, we’re told that if we want to succeed we have to constantly ‘go the extra mile’ and ‘give everything we’ve got’, alluding to the fact we should probably keep going around the clock, not resting until the job is properly done.

Enter common issue: business emails outside of work hours. Should you respond? Should you wait until the following day? Should you switch off completely, and remain ignorant to the fact they’re even there? We brought in our expert panel of career coaches and talent experts to pick their brains on what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what they have to say:


 Marian Bloodworth


“This will largely depend on the nature of the employee’s role, the terms of their contract and the type of business they work in. Employees in client facing roles may well be expected to check for emails out of hours, particularly for example where they are working on an urgent matter and indeed will often want to do so in order to deliver a good client service. However employees are also entitled at law to periods of rest away from work and many employers are alive to the risk of burn out and mental health issues where employees feel under pressure to continually be “on duty”. It is therefore advisable for employers to set out their expectations of employees eg in an Email Use policy or during team discussions so that employees understand the position.”

@emplawmarian is an Employment Partner at Kemp Little LLP

James Nathan



“In a word, yes. I agree that there should be good separation and balance in our lives, but things have moved on quite a way from the days of rotary dials and faxes. Clients expect responses from you quickly and if you get in before your competition then you are more likely to beat them too. The world is just a click away. Don’t be the one who regrets not responding when you could have done.”

@JamesNathan is the Managing Director at The James Nathan Experience

Liz Sebag-Montefiore



I think you need to be flexible; the danger of having a smart phone is that you’re available 24/7 should you choose to be and everyone has a choice. I personally do check at all hours, but I choose the hours in which I work and love the flexibility. You need to be sensible, Gallup report that most full-time employees consider the option to use mobile technology away from work an advantage. It’s largely a question of engagement at work as daily stress is significantly lower for engaged workers and higher for actively disengaged workers, regardless of whether their employer expects them to check email during non-work hours or not. If life balance is a concern then I think it’s a good idea to choose your own out-of-hours email ban, or a once or twice a week tech ban which could be key to reclaiming that elusive work-home balance.”

@LizSM10Eighty is a career coach at 10Eighty

Alison Cardy


“This depends on your industry and the level of boundaries and goodwill that you’ve established. Some types of work do require responsiveness. Many others appear to need 24/7 access to you, but in reality are not built around urgent replies. In the latter case it’s up to the individual to establish clear expectations on how quickly they will respond, if at all, to requests outside of working hours. Respect for these boundaries goes hand in hand with doing an excellent job while at work.”

@CardyCareers is a career coach and author of Career Grease: How to Get Unstuck and Pivot Your Career

Lysha Holmes


“There is such a strong temptation to respond to emails whenever we check our phones; first thing in the morning, walking the dog, in the bath etc. If a conscientious employee wants to respond to an email after hours then they should. I think the working culture is changing and shifting from the 9-5 expectation.”

@LyshaHolmes is the owner of Qui Recruitment Ltd

Jon Gregory


“If they’re just doing a job, then no, but if they’re ambitious and intent on pursuing a career, it’s mandatory. There’s a tired old mantra – “Work smarter, not harder.” It’s bollocks. Work smarter AND harder. Better prospects, career growth and more money – what’s not to like? It’s much better to cry in a Mercedes than whinge about your struggle for a work-life balance when your email app beeps.”

@LetsFireWalk (aka Jon) is a job hunt coach at

Caroline Stokes


In the spirit of work-life balance and avoiding burnout – no! Sometimes we understandably need to be online at different times working on a project, or in the first 90 days of a new job, starting up your business, or at crunch-time with the rest of the company. Working ’24/7′ isn’t sustainable for the majority and it can affect personal and business performance and engagement if work carries into home life too much. However, everyone is different and different businesses can be flexible. For example, one of our clients in San Francisco would start work at 11am, take a dinner break and go to the gym at 6pm, then return to work at about 7.30/8pm. I would receive emails as late as 1am. This works for her.

@theforwardco is an executive headhunter & coach at FORWARD

 Aimee Bateman


“This depends on your position within the company. I believe senior management should, as they are accountable for the business and have decisions to make – some of which cannot wait until Monday. That said, I am a massive fan of work life balance. It’s about all about prioritising.”

@Aimee_Bateman is the CEO & founder of

Farhan Raja


“Can you really help it?  Just ensure that you have  your “me” time whether it’s watching The Walking Dead or taking the dog out for a walk. Also ask yourself will the company all of a sudden go in to crisis if you  don’t respond? If no then it can always wait till tomorrow when you’re back in the office.”

@interviewology (aka Farhan) is the founder, career & communications coach at

Rebecca Fraser


“In this day and age, where we are always connected to social media, it is a habit that many of us fall in to. Many organisations provide strict policies on not working outside of hours, but whilst we have connections available that will assist us in thinking we will have less to do tomorrow, we will do something to try and make this better. The reality is that this will never be the case and our to do list is always full. The decision to check emails outside of working hours can sometimes start as a personal one, become a habit and end in disengagement and frustration. Always consider what you want out of your role in relation to work life balance and if replying to these emails will impact that, reconsider starting. If however it is an expectation from your organisation and this does not align with your values then it may be time to consider your career options.”

@RebeccaFraserCo is a career coach

John Feldmann


“This completely depends on the individual. Everyone has his or her definition of work/life balance. While some may struggle to find balance in a 40-hour work week, others may thrive on the excitement of a 70-hour week in a start-up environment. As long as an employee can maintain a work/life balance that’s comfortable, there’s nothing wrong with checking the occasional work email after hours. Only when they find themselves unable to disconnect from work or distinguish between work and personal time does it become a problem.”

John Feldmann is writer, blogger and content developer for Insperity Recruiting Services

By Phoebe Spinks

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.