How To Decrease Risk of Presenteeism When Ending Remote Working?

Absenteeism is a big problem in the business workplace. Most entrepreneurs try to deal with this to ensure that employees remain productive. When the pandemic-led crisis has forced many organizations to embrace WFH or remote work protocols, another crisis cropped up to thwart productivity. Presenteeism is a new problem that appears in front of organizations.

Presenteeism means showing presence while not remaining productive enough as desired for the job role. The problem has particularly become rampant in some employees working remotely or from home. When hiring remote developers for a project, you see all the team members present on the web. Still, the output is not satisfactory, making the company doubt the work ethics of respective team members. 

Whether it is about managing remote developers or just managing the regular work of employees working from home for a financial institution or any other company, the problem of presenteeism has emerged as a significant threat to productivity. Presenteeism also applies to inhouse staff making less productive output due to sickness or health issues.   

The problem of presenteeism for people Working from Home

In the case of remote work, the problem of presenteeism is most rampant and commonplace than with in-office work. The so-called health issues, depression, stress and other factors that eat away employees’ productivity at the workplace, You can neutralize them more directly and in a planned manner. 

But when it comes to the productivity of people WFH. The main problem is monitoring their work schedule &  working time. When you are WFH and responding to emails, chat messages from the managers and other team members. You are considered very much at work. But when this continuous presence at work can only produce partial results compared to your in-office working hours. The problem of presenteeism looms large. 

Disillusionment with remote work 

Many types of research suggested several times that companies can make huge savings, enhance employee morale, and get onboard the most desired talents by allowing them work-at-home options. But despite this, why are many of these employers now calling their remote workers back into the office? Is this some disillusionment with remote work? We need to find out. 

In the US, several big organizations recently reduced the flexibility of WFH for their staff to curb presenteeism and boost employee productivity. It was started by the Bank of New York Mellon Corp Many leagues of large corporations, including IBM, Yahoo, Aetna, and many others also leverage. 

Behind this decision, there can be several viewpoints and findings at work. Let’s figure out a few of them. 

  • Employees working remotely or from their home might not have proper training or resources to maintain productivity just as their 9 to 5 office jobs. 
  • Being Supervisors or managers are not adequately trained to manage a large pool of WFH. 
  • There can be a severe trust deficit between the employers and employees regarding the commitment to work resulting in siloed processes and lack of productivity. 
  • There can be a sharp downturn in terms of productivity and output with the staff WFH. 

All these factors can be at work simultaneously to make remote work problematic for the large corporations who need to stay focused on productivity. Though this doesn’t imply that disillusionment with remote work has been accepted, at least remote will cease to be rampant as a practice across workplaces. 

Remote work is still unquestionable for productivity and cost-saving 

Even before the pandemic, remote work or working from was considered a major trend across many industries. Simply because the connected world allows a company to create a flexible workplace, saving more money and long-term overhead cost. The pandemic led to the crisis, and lockdown measures pushed the situation into a roller coaster. Now almost a majority of IT staff across companies work still remotely. 

WFH is considered an exceptional privilege In many industries. Because of sickness or rare conditions. Now there is a considerable staff who work remotely for some days in a week. In the past few years, this population of remote workers has grown substantially in many industries. Which includes telecommunication, software development, and maintenance, information systems, engineering, architecture, training and education, research, etc. Many conventional industries & workplaces hopped on to this bandwagon of remote work to stay active and operational in the last year. 

IBM long ago felt the money-saving opportunities created by remote workers. Naturally, this IT giant freed around 58 million square feet of real estate space for its offices over the years. More than one-third of IBM employees worldwide have no offices at all.

So, despite this new crisis of presenteeism, remote work will continue to thrive. Simply because in connected world enterprises & their employees cannot evolve back to the traditional workplaces with all disadvantages and costs. The way IBM called thousands of its employees back to physical offices again can only be a temporary measure to curb presenteeism and turn the work process back on a productive track. But this doesn’t push remote work out of the table. 


Despite the problem of presenteeism. Remote work is still irreplaceable in a connected world where online jobs make up the vast majority of work processes. But how companies will deal with presenteeism without knocking off the advantages of remote work, Will see in the days to come. 


Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

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