Presenteeism: The New Phenomenon of Overworked Remote Workers

The major adjustment to working from home has been a great adjustment for companies and employees alike, but many are enjoying the increase in flexibility and lack of commute. 

However, remote work has introduced new challenges like zoom fatigue, technology shortfalls and reduced team cohesion. Recently, there’s been a new culture of “e-presenteeism” that has led employees to feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

What is Presenteeism?

Presenteeism is the practice of employees being present at work when they’re disengaged or unwell. In terms of remote work, employees are now feeling that they should be online and available as much as possible, leading to a rise of e-presenteeism. In fact, 4 out of 5 managers think working from home has encouraged it. 

Research commissioned by LinkedIn, in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, found the following information: 

  • 75% of HR managers feel that e-presenteeism has the potential to negatively impact employees’ mental health by causing burnout and anxiety; 
  • On average, those working from home are working an extra 28 hours of overtime per month since lockdown began which equates to nearly four days of work. 

But despite those effects, 54% of employees say they enjoy the benefits that come with working from home and would like to have that option available. 45% say they feel more connected to their families.

Mitigation and Prevention

56% of HR professionals fear lower team morale from burnout, increased anxiety and loneliness. To mitigate burnout, be more vigilant about making sure your team members don’t prioritize work over their own wellbeing. Here are some extra tips you and your team can utilize:

Maintain physical and social boundaries. You can partake in “boundary-crossing activities” like replacing your morning commute with a walk to a nearby park before sitting down to work or taking a little extra time to get ready. It can help you mentally transition into “work mode.”

Focus on the most important tasks. While working from home, your team members will feel compelled to appear productive, leading them to work on tasks that aren’t as critical. This is counterproductive in the long run. Prioritizing tasks can help create a better workload balance. 

Try to have a flexible schedule. Sticking to a 9-to-5 schedule may prove unrealistic as many are facing the challenge of integrating childcare or other family responsibilities during work hours. It’s challenging even for employees without other responsibilities, thanks to our mobile devices. Help your employees find schedules that function best for them and the team. 

Team members working from home can be at a greater risk of burnout because of the high stakes environment we find ourselves in both globally and personally. It’s important to “unplug” from time to time. Give your team and yourself the chance to experiment with how to make their circumstances work for them in these unpredictable times. After all, we don’t want them “experimenting” with another company altogether.