The Impact of E-mail Communication on Organizational Life


Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has become mainstream in work life. This raises the question what the impact of CMC on our daily work is. Since e-mail is still the most prevalent form of CMC in organizational life, we focus predominantly on e-mail communication. The central aim of this paper is to give an overview of research on the impact of e-mail provided by personal computers and smart mobile devices on work using the JD-R model as a framework. In other words we interpreted the results of the studies used to show which aspects of e-mail communication can be considered as demands and resources, and hence complicate or facilitate our working life. The costs of e-mail seem to be disproportionally loaded on the recipient who has to deal with excessive amounts of e-mail and the pressure to answer these e-mails as soon as possible. A smartphone increases the flexibility of an employee but facilitates working long hours with a risk of disturbed work-home balance at the same time. Technology in itself is neither a demand nor a resource; it is how we deal with it.

CMC, JD-R model, e-mail, job demands, mobile technology, smartphone
Author biographies

Daantje Derks

Author photoDaantje Derks is assistant professor in Work and Organizational Psychology within the Institute for Psychology at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam (the Netherlands). She is a course director for the Minor Work and Organizational Psychology. Her dissertation addressed the role of emotion in computer-mediated communication. Her current research interests focus on the impact of computer-mediated communication on daily work life – particularly the effects of using a smartphone on recovery and work-home interference and the impression formation around social networking sites.

Arnold B. Bakker

Author photoArnold B. Bakker is professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His research interests include positive organizational psychology (e.g., flow and engagement at work, performance), burnout, crossover of work-related emotions, and internet applications of organizational psychology. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Human Relations. Bakker is editor of the book Work engagement: A handbook of essential theory and research (with Michael Leiter; Psychology Press).

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