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12 kinds of late-night office emails

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 19 2014 12:20 p.m. MDT

Up late checking your email? You're bound to run into one of these 12 emails.

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It’s 11:03 p.m. You’re laying in bed, ready to pass out in preparation for the day ahead. But then a blinding beam of light floods your room. A ring dings and your nightstand shakes. You pick up your phone, and waiting there on the screen is an email from your co-worker. Time to answer it.

Answering email from workplace colleagues isn’t that uncommon. Derek Thompson of The Atlantic wrote Monday about how workers across America feel the need to respond to emails late at night, forcing them to tune-in to their jobs during the afterhours.

The McKinsey Global Institute paper found that Americans spend on average 13 hours a week on email — which accounts for about 28 percent of the workweek. And a 2012 survey by the Center for Creative Leadership similarly found that professionals, company managers and executives keep in touch with their employers 13.5 hours a day overall through email and smartphones — and five hours through email on the weekends. Some countries, like France, have even tried to ban emails after work hours.

To help you track your late-night emails, here’s a look at 12 messages you may receive from co-workers at bedtime:

The urgent message

This is the email for when something goes wrong or an item needs to be addressed immediately. It usually comes from a superior, but can come from someone farther down the totem pole that made a mistake. Careful with these emails, though. Researchers at the Harvard Business Review found that people tend to overreact when it comes to mistakes and errors.

The pat on the back

You just hit the goal for the month. Time to celebrate. You may get this email a little later on in the night when someone wants to give you a pat on the back — especially your boss. A sign of a good boss is that they offer some praise for you when it’s deserved, according to researchers from the University of Utah. And good bosses, the research noted, make the company perform better.

The useless ones

Spam email accounts for more than 70 percent of the email you get, and nighttime is no stranger to this kind of email. Whether it’s some hacker trying to break into your system or a weird newsletter you signed up for in the past, spam is known for sneaking through into your email and causing you to hit the delete button.

The personal message

Your friend is up late, they’re perusing the Internet and bam — they send an email to your work account. Not the worst thing, since it seems to be a common trend. So much so that employers have even begun to strike back at people using their work emails or phones for personal use. Be careful with responding to this one, though. It’s possible this friend may have sent you an NSFW (that’s Not Safe For Work) email. But there are plenty of ways to handle that.

The email that never ends

You’ve been here before. What seemed like a simple question has sprawled out into some odd discussion about what needs to be done at the office. This is the beginning of a long email thread, where workers are shooting messages back and forth. Sometimes responders double back and reply to an earlier message before sending their next, creating a chaotic mess of email. But these messages can be cleaned up with simple and clear language, among other things, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The one riddled with typos