Present But Not Correct

This blog is fast developing a habit of letting people down with titles; this is not a post about getting presents, that is unless you count this blog post as a gift of knowledge from me, to you, with love.

We all know the saying ‘it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts’ and I’m sure we can all think of scenarios in our lives to which we can apply this. So why is this not the case in the workplace?

Why are we constrained to working 9-5, chained to our desks? Why do you need to be seen to be working longer hours than you’re contracted for and why is any attempt at leaving on time frowned upon? Short answer, you don’t and it shouldn’t be.

How many times have you been sat at your desk, unable to focus on what you are meant to be doing? Once or twice a week? Every day? This is referred to as presenteeism; the practice of physically being at work but mentally elsewhere. It results in productivity loss, exhaustion and, in some cases, health epidemics. It is also a massive contributor, in most cases, to work-related stress and stops employees finding that healthy balance between their work and home lives.

Presenteeism is generally regarded as a direct reaction to stricter management of absenteeism, the practice of not being at work, which has been vilified over the last 20 years. Few businesses however know how to correctly identify presenteeism – let alone manage it.

Individual solutions are simple; take regular breaks, exercise frequently, don’t eat your lunch at your desk. To drive real change in your workplace however, you will need management on board as the ideal solution is flexible working.

Employers may see this as an employee trying to play the system; flexible start and finish times, working from home etc. but all of this can have drastically positive effects on an employee’s moral, mental and physical being, and most importantly, their productivity and work performance. It is in their interests to get their employees re-engaged and focused at work, but often, they simply don’t know how to do it.

We all have a legal right to request flexible working under government guidelines, so why not take benefit of what is available to you?


Chris Sanders is a Data and Management Analyst based in the South East of England. He has previously worked in the telecoms industry and currently analyses data for a leading UK University. He blogs about data analysis, management practices, and the modern workplace.

Find Chris on LinkedIn here