How you feel affects how you work, and how others around you work, too. If you are feeling sick, you have two choices – call in sick, or come in to work and feel miserable.
It’s no secret that most would recommend that when you’re sick, you stay home until you get better, yet many of us show up to our jobs anyway to, as the saying goes, “tough it out.”
But that’s put your co-workers in harm’s way, too – what one writer called “the crosshairs of germs.” According to a study from MIT, the fluid released by a single sneeze can travel over 26 feet – the length of several desks.
When a company’s employees do, in fact, call in sick, the company suffers there, as well. In fact, absent employees and those who show up to work while sick combine to cost the U.S. economy nearly $230 billion each year due to lost productivity. It’s important that workers and cleaners heed advice on how to stay healthy while in the office.
Here are a couple tips:
1. Talk to the cleaning staff: While great communication between office managers and cleaning staff should occur throughout the year, special chats prior to and during cold and flu season can do a lot to put workers in the best position to keep offices safe. Topics of discussion should include how often high-touch surfaces should be disinfected.
2. Know what carries germs: Speaking of high-touch surfaces — cleaners and building occupants alike need to get to know what they are. The most germ-covered items in the office are those that come in contact with hands. This of course includes door handles, keyboards and phone receivers, but sink taps, faucets, refrigerator handles and the buttons on vending machines and microwaves, get in plenty of contact with fingers, too.
3. Improve hand washing: Too often do people skip out on washing their hands, but even those that wash their hands often don’t do it for long enough. The average person washes his or her hands for 10 seconds, which is only long enough to dispose of 90 percent of germs. This is a mistake, as that remaining 10 percent of bacteria can double in less than 20 minutes. In 80 minutes, the bacteria grow to the number is was at prior to the hand washing.
4. Keep your workstation clean: It is extremely important to keep your workstation clean and orderly. Tidy it up five minutes before leaving for the day so that you return to a neat workspace the next morning. Keep sanitizing wipes handy and use them to wipe the surface of your desk often.
5. Be hygienic: Being hygienic goes a long way in keeping you healthy. You can take the necessary steps at work too. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk. When at work, it may not always be possible to step away from your desk every time you want to wash your hands. But with your hand sanitizer close, you can deal with situations that involve you coughing or sneezing and stay healthy and germ-free.
6. Avoid mingling with sick employees: This one is common sense but no less important. Avoid close contact with employees, who may be sick or show symptoms of communicable disease. Wash your hands if you’ve been around their workstation. Also, let office management know about the sick employee, if they aren’t already aware. If you’re sick, it’s best to stay home and recuperate so that you do not end up spreading the infection to others.