Are businesses losing money because of presenteeism culture?

‘Presenteeism – The practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job.’ – Oxford Dictionaries

Presenteeism has become a big problem in the UK; it has tripled since 2010 according to the latest CIPD report, and 52% of workers are going into work when their performance has been negatively affected by health issues according to a 2017 report by Fellowes. Fellowes also goes on to suggest that this means that a sub-standard level of work is likely to be happening due to the fact that employees are not 100% fit, well or happy.

Can we believe that if they are not 100% physically or mentally well, that they going into the office to work?

The saying has always been ‘seeing is believing’, but this is becoming a damaging statement within business where executives and managers require staff to be present in the office to know that they are working. This does not and should not be the case anymore. Employees can work hard where ever they are located, some may prefer the office as a sanctum of focus, whilst others prefer the chance to work when and where they want.

There is a shift in working attitudes, but many companies are being slow to adopt these changes.

The current change in workplace culture has been driven by the advancement in technology. The cloud has allowed people to connect to services from anywhere with a good, secure Wi-Fi signal, whilst collaboration technology has progressed to allow users to talk, video conference, share and annotate files from mobile devices whilst on the go. Employees of all ages are now looking for the benefit of work/life balance, whether that means getting to see family more, getting to exercise more, or simply avoid the morning commute. There are many reasons that some people want the option to be flexible with their work. The benefits are happier, healthier employees and a better standard of work being produced for those who want the flexibility.

Are all companies making the shift to flexibility?

In short, no. Too many companies are still making staff work regular inflexible hours in offices; giving them no choice. Of course, there are certain job roles and functions that must be carried out at certain times and at certain locations, and some people that prefer to go to the office; that is likely to always be true. Whether it is a case of not realising that it effects all companies and just ignoring it, or whether it comes down to a lack of trust in what the staff are doing, senior figures within business must sit up and take notice.

See the results not the person!

If it is the latter of the two, then there is a more serious problem that needs to be addressed. If the lack of flexibility comes down to seeing is believing, then questioning the levels of trust and/or hiring protocols are the likely problems. A company working with a lack of trust that staff can and will work from outside the office walls has a very negative outlook on the people they are hiring. Judging staff on the work that they do rather than whether they are sat at their desk should be every CEO and managers quality control.

What these companies don’t perhaps realise is that there is such a shift for flexibility that potential employees might completely ignore a job specification if it is not mentioned, or not accept a job if it is not talked about during interview. It is even the cause for people leaving a job role. Therefore, companies could be losing out on talented employees. Over a third of employees (34%) in the UK have admitted to looking for alternative jobs due to presenteeism, as published by Fellowes. This is the highest figure across Europe.

Better Collaboration, is a good answer.

With the rapid rise of collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Skype for Business and Teams, the Cisco Webex suite of tools including Teams for Meetings, Google’s Hangouts Meet, Slack and a whole host of other tools and services, employees can meet face to face via video, share, annotate, whiteboard and brainstorm without being in the same office. These collaboration tools, whilst advancing in capabilities, have also become easier to use, more secure and easier support thanks to managed service providers like Videocall.

Even if you have traditional or legacy video conferencing meeting rooms within the office, they can now be used to hold meetings with employees working from other locations dialling in on other services. Any number of different services and apps can attend the same meeting without any fuss, hassle or having complicated connecting issues, all the time while the same workflow is maintained.

Of course, collaboration tools are just a single factor within a much bigger problem where employee’s health must be assessed to reduce presenteeism. Collaboration tools can however have the biggest effect on people not feeling that they must be in the office. It can however, only work if a shift in cultural thinking is taken on-board. 

If you are looking at collaboration tools to help the flexibility of your staff, then talk to Videocall today. We are video conferencing and collaboration experts with over 20 years of experience in helping companies have better, more productive, flexible meetings. Use our contact form, email us at or call us on +44 (0)1276 706706, and start your conversation to ending presenteeism in your company.