Canadians working from home last to stay ‘on the job’ while sick

Although many Canadians have returned to their normal jobs, a significant portion of us still refers to our home as “the office.”

At the same time, the leadership of public health authorities across the country has been the same for months: stay home when you are sick. But when home and office are combined, it doesn’t mean Canadians go on vacation. Group president Winnipeg Legacy Bowes—a human resources and career coach—says he has experienced one of the lowest absenteeism rates in two decades.

“When you work from home, I think people are more loyal to work,” says Barbara Bowes, “even when they’re sick, they’re still trying to work, and this has resulted in minimal absenteeism.”

Bowes saw this earlier this year with a member of his own team.

“I had an [employee] at home for two weeks – severe allergies, that sort of thing. She wasn’t feeling well,” explains Bowes. [When she came back] I asked ‘how long have you been working and she said 90% of the time.

“I said, ‘I thought you weren’t feeling well and she said no, but she took time off and continued working. I think that’s the case for a lot of people. Financial issues, the lack of time that usually occurs affect employees.

“I think [now] there are a lot of mental health problems. People who worry about work, worry about their financial situation, take risks by continuing to work [when they are sick]. Sixty-five percent of Canadians who work with coverage rate their mental health as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 55% of those without.

In financial terms, the numbers are 48 percent and 36 percent, respectively. “What can you do about it? When you’re working remotely, it’s very difficult,” Bowes says.

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