Email ‘anxiety’ behind seven in 10 furloughed staff checking inbox


Email ‘anxiety’ is driving almost seven in 10 furloughed employees to check their work inbox while they have been laid off, despite this potentially being considered a breach of the rules.

Sixty per cent of furloughed employees admitted feeling anxious always, often or sometimes when they thought about their work inbox, according to a Censuswide survey of 1,000 workers for security training firm KnowBe4.

Their biggest concern was missing time-sensitive communications from colleagues or clients (50%), followed by the worry about filtering through emails when they return to work (49%) and falling behind on work (37%).

Although government guidance has  been vague on the matter, furloughed employees should not check nor respond to their emails as it can be considered providing a service to their employer. However, four in 10 admitted they had responded to an email during their furlough period.

On average, furloughed staff thought it would take them just over two days to go through their work inbox when their furlough period comes to an end, potentially increasing their stress levels.

“Furloughed staff do not know what is happening at work, are uncertain what the impact of the current pandemic is on their employer, do not know when or if their employer will open premises again, and in many cases, do not know whether they will have a job to go back to,” said Eleanor Deem, founder of consultancy face2faceHR.

“This level of anxiety increases a craving for information which makes avoiding looking at emails very difficult.”

When  asked how the emails should be handled while they were away, 52% disliked the idea of having all their emails deleted or archived at the end of the furlough period; with 22% claiming they would feel ‘much more stressed’ and 30% saying they would feel ‘somewhat stressed’.

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