Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff
There’s a lot remote workers feel they can “get away with” while working from home—going out for a run in the middle of the day, spending extra time with their dogs or making lunch while listening to a call. Yet all of these habits speak to the flexibility and freedom of remote work. And as long as the work is getting done, it shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, being able to do these things can make these employees happier and more productive in the long run.
But what about “getting away with” working while feeling sick? Since the pandemic, 70% of employees have admitted to working from home while feeling sick. Over 65% of people said they felt “less inclined to take time off for sore throats and stuffy noses when working from home.”
Working while sick can seem to have its benefits, especially when you’re feeling behind at work. It can seem easier to just log on and get your tasks done than miss a day and dread the work piling up. Yet working while sick can lead to presenteeism: being on the job while ill but not working at full productivity or efficiency.
Presenteeism has become an epidemic for work from home workers who find it easier to just get some work done while feeling under the weather. But the trend can have serious consequences on worker and even company performance; some estimate that presenteeism costs U.S. companies over $150 billion a year.
Working while sick isn’t just an unproductive way to get through the workday—it’s dangerous, and continuing to work while sick can have long-term damaging effects on one’s health. In the short term, continuing to work cuts into your time to heal and rest, meaning it takes longer to recover from illness.
Studies have shown that sick workers who don’t take time off also have increased risks of poor health in the future; they’re also likely to have to take sick time off in the next few years. Working while sick can even have negative effects on one’s mental health, including an increased risk of depression after two years—even if you weren’t depressed when you first started working while sick.
Next time you’re feeling under the weather and thinking about setting your Slack status to “active” anyway, consider how the risks of working compare to the benefits of rest and healing. You’ll feel much better when you can log on at 100% and really get the most out of your workday—rather than working at 50% for a long, long time.
This article reflects the views of the author and not those of Fairygodboss.
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