German researchers have found that 87% of remote workers worked while sick over a three-month period. Most said it's easier to work when sick at home than at an office, and it's harder to decide not to work when they're sick at home.
The study suggests there’s a need for employers to promotes ‘health literacy’ and provide guidelines for assessing work ability to better understand the ‘difference between illness and health-related (un)fitness for work".
The researchers found working while sick isn't always bad. Sometimes, it helps people feel included at work, especially if they have ongoing health issues. But it can also make health worse in the long run.
They also found that when people can't stop thinking about work during their free time or when their bosses don't give much support, they tend to work even when they shouldn't.
The researchers suggest that bosses need to learn how to lead remote teams better and help workers separate work from personal time. They recommend programs to promote better health habits and suggest including discussions about working while sick in workplace training.
They also propose measuring how many sick days people take while working remotely to understand how it affects their health and work performance.