When Your Spouse Calls and Interrupts Your Workday, Is That a Good Thing?

When Your Spouse Calls and Interrupts Your Workday, Is That a Good Thing? When Your Spouse Calls and Interrupts Your Workday, Is That a Good Thing?

May 15, 20172 min read
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Consider these scenarios.


You’re focused on an important project at work and your phone rings. It’s your spouse.


You’ve just finished dinner with your family and you’re cleaning up the table. Your phone buzzes. An email from your boss.


Are these interruptions of your work and family time harmful or helpful?


Yes and no, according to a new Journal of Management study spearheaded by work-life balance expert Emily Hunter, Ph.D., associate professor of management in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business.


“Our results demonstrate that the effect of interruptions in the work and home domains are twofold: On one hand, they may lead to unwelcome consequences, including obstruction of goals, negative affect, decreased satisfaction with investment in work and family and work-family conflict,” researchers wrote. “On the other, greater integration of work and family may afford workers increased positive affect, as these interruptions help them meet certain work or family goals.”


Hunter said technology is blurring the boundaries between work and family, and this can have daily consequences on workers.


“When you give to one domain, you must take from the other. There are only so many hours in the day,” Hunter said. “Interruptions from family ‘take’ from work in the form of work goal obstructions, negative emotions and lower satisfaction with investment in work.”


When work invades family time, employees can use that to their advantage as well, Hunter said.


“Workers who work from home in off-job hours can also benefit from managing co-worker expectations about availability after hours, setting aside time after children go to bed to accomplish work tasks with minimal obstruction to their family role and setting limits on hours of smartphone use for work purposes,” she said.


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  • Emily Hunter, Ph.D.
    Emily Hunter, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Management, Hankamer School of Business

    Negotiation and conflict management expert, revolutionizing the fundamentals of workplace psychology

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