Is remote work the end of sick days?


When we were all working in the office, it wasn’t uncommon to take a sick day if we weren’t feeling well.

Staying home allowed us to manage our symptoms and get the rest we needed to recover quickly. Not to mention, it prevented us from spreading the illness to our colleagues.

Now that a majority of us are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are we still inclined to take those sick days? Is remote work the end of sick days as we know it?

COVID-19 and Other Illnesses

With the tremendous impact that COVID-19 has had, it seems that all other illnesses like the common cold, an ear infection, or a case of strep throat aren’t taken nearly as seriously anymore. Unless you’ve tested positive for COVID, you’re expected to keep trudging away at your laptop answering emails.

According to one study, 66% of workers believe that taking a sick day for any reason other than having COVID will be looked down upon by their employer. It’s this mentality that keeps us from taking the time we need to rest, recover, and then get back to work.

The Stigma Against Sick Days

There is already a huge stigma against taking sick days in corporate culture. It’s seen as a sign of weakness, that you can’t handle yourself if you aren’t feeling well. Many employees fear that taking a sick day means they’re lazy and don’t deserve the promotion they were being considered for or the raise they were about to receive.

With this stigma comes the inclination to keep working from home even when you’re sick. The mentality is as follows: if I’m home, then I’m not infecting my coworkers, and I can still answer emails and complete my tasks.

Is this crossing a boundary, though? Don’t we have the right to rest peacefully in our homes and watch a movie as we blow our noses without the worry of answering an email right away?

What About Recovering from Surgery?

When an employee needs time to recover from a surgery, most employers don’t think twice about giving them the time off that they need. However, will this change now that we are working from home?

Whether it’s a minor procedure from Northwest Surgery Center or one that requires some recovery time in the hospital, will employers expect us now to be available with our computers open at all times?

Will we be expected to lug our laptops to the hospital so that we can put our two cents in an email thread as we wait for our doctors to give us the green light to go home?

The Future of Sick Days

The future of sick days is unclear. Given their bad reputation, people assume that even if they don’t feel well, they are still expected to be logged into their computers while working from home.

However, there seems to be more awareness surrounding the practice of taking mental health days. Everyone knows we’ve all been through a highly stressful year and a half and mental health is more prominent on our radar than ever.

Hopefully, the allowance and acceptance of sick days will follow the route that mental health days are taking. Until then, stay safe and healthy!


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