NEW YORK — Are sick days a thing of the past for those who work from home? A new survey finds 66 percent of Americans working remotely believe that taking sick days for anything less severe than COVID-19 would be looked down upon by their employer.
Moreover, three out of four respondents said that since getting coworkers sick is off the table, the bar for symptom severity warranting taking time off has been raised. The OnePoll survey reveals two in three Americans (67%) are much less inclined to take off from work when they are sick now. In fact, seven in 10 have even worked while feeling ill since they started working from home.
The poll, commissioned by ColdCalm, also examined the circumstances under which workers would actually take time off for sickness now that they perform their duties without ever leaving the house.
How sick is ‘too sick’ to work?
The survey of 2,000 Americans finds 63 percent feel a sore throat alone simply won’t cut it in 2020. Workers say they would need to actually lose their voice before they felt justified taking time off. Results also revealed that sometimes remote employees have been so desperate for an illness-related respite that half have taken undocumented time off and hoped that it went unnoticed.
Nearly half of respondents believe that COVID has made other illnesses look “minor” in comparison. Forty-five percent said the pandemic has made them more vigilant about avoiding illnesses, and 72 percent are more likely to take medication at the first signs of symptoms.
“Avoiding getting sick is clearly top of mind this cold and flu season, especially for those working from home,” says Janick Boudazin, pharmacist and CEO of Boiron, manufacturer of ColdCalm, in a statement. “But relieving any symptoms that arise is just as important, as even a small cold can bring on a runny nose, nasal congestion and minor sore throat pain that can interfere with your ability to perform while working from home.”
Toughing it out is never a good idea
Even though the physical stress of commuting is eliminated for those working from home, their ability to handle their responsibilities can still be impacted by sickness. Among those Americans who worked from home while sick, 52 percent say their performance “decreased considerably” during their illness. Nearly six in 10 (57%) feel that working remotely through their illness actually enhanced their credibility with coworkers.
“Tempting though it may be to just push through an illness while working from home, addressing your symptoms at the onset and taking time off if needed to recover should still be taken seriously this cold and flu season,” Boudazin recommends.
“Proactive measures like taking a homeopathic medicine, drinking lots of fluids to stay hydrated, and getting plenty of rest at the first sign of illness can mean the difference between having something that can be manageably worked through as opposed to one that knocks you off your feet for a few days.”