COVID-19, Telecommuting, and (Virtual) Sickness Presenteeism: Working From Home While Ill During a Pandemic

Sascha Alexander Ruhle*, René Schmoll

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


This study explored (virtual) sickness presenteeism in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using qualitative data from 505 members of the German working population, it investigates how working from home, which rapidly increased because of the COVID-19 outbreak, is perceived with regard to the pandemic. The study explored how this development affects the decision to show absence or presence in case of illness. More than 1,300 responses to different open-end questions by presenteeists and non-presenteeists were analyzed. The findings suggest that many previously identified reasons for deciding for or against presenteeism are still applicable. However, noteworthy differences with regard to both telecommuting and the pandemic occurred. Virtual sickness presenteeism seems to be strongly encouraged by the possibility to adjust working conditions at home. Additionally, COVID-19 has affected the perceptions of health at work. The study contributes to a more in-depth understanding of (virtual) sickness presenteeism during a global pandemic. Six propositions for future research are developed, and the importance of context for the consequences of virtual sickness presenteeism is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number734106
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • presenteeism at work
  • qualitative analysis
  • remote work
  • telecommuting
  • telework


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