It’s cold-and-flu season, and you know what that means: lots of germs lurking around the office. If you do catch a cold, it’s easy to see why, since a recent survey found that 49% of people go to work “very frequently” even when they feel sick.
Respondents cited a lack of sick days and a fear of falling behind or appearing weak as reasons why they refuse to stay home when they’re under the weather. If you can’t decide whether you’re sick enough to stay home, follow this advice from Patty Haddeland, a nurse practitioner in Ore. “If you are vomiting, have a fever over 101, or work in close quarters with other people (especially the very young or very old), please stay home. Otherwise, wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and avoid touching your face—this is how germs are spread.”
If you’re not vomiting, but really can’t take the day off, try these strategies for working under the weather.
Ask to take a half day. Your boss will clearly see that you’re sick and will most likely take pity on you. Plus, since you were in the office all morning, you won’t feel like you’re “missing out” on anything important.
Consider “working” from home. While you should use your sick days to rest, if you’re feeling up to it, there’s no harm in checking your e-mail or sitting in on a conference call from the couch. Just be sure to mute the volume on the daytime TV you’ve been watching all day long.
Stay away. While you are in the office, minimize your contact with co-workers to help prevent the spread of germs. They’ll understand—especially when they don’t end up catching whatever it is your harboring.
Be careful of the cold meds. Some medicines can make you drowsy, which may make you more prone to mix-ups or mistakes. Make sure to read the label before popping any pills.