Is Covid-19 the Ultimate Cure For Presenteeism?

Before the extraordinary world Covid 19 lockdown, did you have a workaholic manager and, feel the strong pressure of presenteeism to be at your desk?

Was working ridiculous hours, inhaling lunch at your desk, checking emails at home and sacrificing weekends your working norm?

When you did achieve balance between work and home life, doing the school run or homework time, did you feel excluded from meetings and decisions?

At Charlotte Sweeney Associates we have been conducting insight research for several clients into the challenges leaders feel in progressing their careers. Our research has predominantly focused on female leaders; no doubt these pressures we have unearthed cross the gender divide.

The arrival of Covid-19

Enter Covid-19; a virus to shut down everyone’s normal working practices and usher in unprecedented volumes of people working from home. A social experiment on a global scale to challenge the most ardent of managers who create the mystic that being present is a prerequisite to success. They are now themselves grappling with managing a team using virtual tools, trusting the team to deliver and having to find their new leadership style.

These workaholic managers, always at their desks are the people now out of their comfort zone, as they find themselves in territory very familiar to most women.

During Covid-19 lockdown we have seen people asking for advice on how best to work from home. To find the answers business simply needs to look to the amazing female leaders in their own company to lead the way. They have been working this way for a long time. It’s second nature to them.

Now is the time for all those leaders who have juggled, multi-tasked, fitted everything in, to rise and demonstrate the art of doing it all!

Post Covid-19 Crisis – How can we learn from lockdown working?

  • Looking ahead, as the world emerges from lockdown, will the new norm be that virtual working will take precedent over office working?
  • When you return to work and want to live by value driven leadership that respects work-life balance, could we use this global experience where home working and flexible patterns are the default contractual position?
  • Could we ask companies to calculate the carbon footprint savings, the travel expense savings, and the impact on mental health that remote working brings?
  • Can we survey employees experience of enforced homeworking to see both benefits and shortcomings?
  • Can the female leaders who have battled with presenteeism and who have been overlooked for promotion become the catalysts - to create this change?

The CSA challenge to you

We are conducting research into the longer term impact and what we can learn from this global, social experiment we all now find ourselves in. What other questions should we ask to explore the impact of this unique moment in our global history on workplace norms? 

We’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences on remote working and how it has the potential to empower business both now and, in the future to help shape a global insight project. Please share your learning from this extraordinary moment in time either on the comments or via email at


Charlotte Sweeney OBE and Kay Allen OBE