Thanks to technology, we’ve realized that we don’t have to do much of our work in the office in order to be just as productive and connected. Therefore, more and more companies around the world offer their employees the possibility of working from home (remote work). In addition to the fact that it brings a number of benefits to employees and their employers, there are also negative aspects to such a way of working. One of them is certainly digital presenteeism.
Although it may sound unfamiliar to some, at first, we fought against this enemy even before the era of remote work, but in a slightly different form. The concept of presenteeism at work (or in the office) is associated with situations where employees spend more time at work than necessary. The pressure they feel is caused by the fear of how their superiors will think that they are slacking off or not doing enough. This leads to employees working too long, skipping lunch breaks, or working while sick. On the other hand, this term can also be associated with employees who are physically present but mentally absent. They are often at work to signal to their superiors that they are committed to work, even if they are not significantly productive.
Unfortunately, this pattern of behaviour did not disappear with the transition to remote work mode, but came in a new – digital form. Digital presenteeism is the tendency of employees to always be available and close to the device that serves them for work, even outside of working hours. Employees therefore constantly feel the need to be virtually present, respond quickly to e-mails, and complete tasks during the weekend or vacation. Constant connectivity and the need to react at all times have led to the blurring of the lines between private and work life, which can ultimately lead to employee burnout and reduced performance for organizations.
This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the communications industry, especially among digital and PR professionals. Communication never stops; therefore, it is a common perception and an unwritten rule that it is necessary to be available to clients at any time. This is especially highlighted due to potential crisis situations that spread rapidly in today’s hyper-connected world, which is why an equally quick reaction is required.
As in all life situations, it is necessary to find a healthy balance and practical solutions in order to prevent the occurrence of this behaviour, which can be harmful to both parties. A healthy balance between private and business life is essential for employee satisfaction and performance. Therefore, it is very important to organize business duties and other activities in an individual’s day well.
There are many methods to help prevent the problem of digital presenteeism – from asynchronous mode of work to an active lifestyle and turning off app notifications outside of working hours. What should definitely be in focus for employees and their superiors is that productivity and results should always come before presenteeism; that is, the need to be available and available virtually 24/7.
It is very important for the communication industry to follow, understand and raise awareness of these emerging trends in the labour market, because one of its tasks is to contribute to a favourable organizational climate and quality communication at all levels through various tools. In addition, one of the most important challenges in the labour market is the lack of quality employees. In the context of building a good employer brand and attracting talents who approach work responsibly and enthusiastically, in cooperation with human resources departments, communication specialists can make a key contribution.