Written by Lori Thiessen

Last week, I attended a lecture on new diagnostic procedures and treatment of depression sponsored by the Mood Disorders Association. Dr. Ron Remick who is a consulting psychiatrist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver introduced the concept of presenteeism to the assembled company.

Presenteeism is the state when you are physically at work but not mentally. Dr. Remick quoted statistics that put productivity lost to presenteeism at about 4 hours per week whereas absenteeism caused about only 1 hr of lost productivity per week. Ergo, you are more productive by taking the day off and resting than coming into to the office and being simply decorative.

As an independent café commuter (e.g. a freelance consultant), you are often at the mercy of the client’s deadline. If you have a reasonable client, you may be able to wangle an extension on the deadline. If not, well, you’re sunk. Absenteeism or presenteeism isn’t an option unless you are working with a partner or have an agreement with another consultant to sub for each other during illness or heavy workload periods.

Since freelance consulting often means inconsistent workloads (read: feast or famine times), you are either working flat out on a deadline or you are trying to drum up more business. Most of the time, you are doing both. So burn-out becomes an issue for the self-employed café commuter. You can be absent from work or suffering from presenteeism like anybody else, however the only one who knows on a daily/hourly basis is your jerk of a boss, which since you are self-employed is you.

Sometimes, the best thing to do might be to sit back and savour the cup of coffee you are holding in your hand.

Q: How do you deal with your own bouts of absenteeism or presenteeism?

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll save your seat until next time!