ACHOO! Avoiding the office cold when everyone else caught it.

It’s that season again (ask me how I know!) where everyone is down with a cold or the flu. COVID-19 is still out there. But everyone else around you is sniffling or looking like death warmed over.

First off, it’s not easy. The viruses (virii?) can be airborne.

1 – Work from Home

If you can, I would work from home. This has saved me from my yearly bout of pneumonia or bronchitis. Just don’t be in the office and avoid everyone else.

The problem is there is still this pervading belief that if you try to show up, even sick, and power through you’ll be the office hero.

Please don’t. First, if you’re that type, you’re making it worse on yourself as you lengthen how long you are ill, negatively affecting your productivity. Rip the bandaid off, save energy, and stay home tucked in bed. Rest and recover and come back full.

What about if you already work from home?

I’m sure you’ve all been there. You’re at home and you’re on the couch. Your face is a mess and you just feel horrible. Even without heading into an office, your home office isn’t the place for you… at least full-time. This is where a frank discussion with your supervisor (if you have one) and doing what you can and taking longer than usual breaks to rest and recover can help while not losing an entire day. Mind you, if you find that this still isn’t working and you need the day, there’s no commute back home. Just call it in and shut down the computer.

2 – WFH Not An Option? Keep clean!

If you have to be somewhere and in person instead of working from home, there are still some options. Cleanliness is a germ’s worst enemy. Not just your own personal hygiene (although that helps) but also the cleanliness around you.

And don’t wait for the building maintenance to do the little things for you. While they’re great for keeping things clean the constant wear and touching surfaces by numerous hands will wear down what good they’ve done to absolutely nothing before lunch.

Ew.

So, what can you do?

Clean your desk: This goes doubly if you “hot desk” as some call centers do. If you share a computer cubicle with another worker on another shift, you will want to disinfect everything in that cubicle. There are some sprays that can help, but a bit of cleaning spray and a wipe down (gently!) on every surface from chair, keyboard, desk surface itself, the cubicle wall, screen, etc… to have that personal guarantee that it’s as clean as it can be.

Wash your hands: I would do this frequently as our hands have this tendency to touch everything in our path throughout the day… from doorknobs to door handles, the vending machine and even the sink. Also, try to avoid touching your face.

Encourage sick coworkers to go home: This depends on the relationship between you and your coworker and how you approach the subject. Most like it when others are honestly concerned for their well-being instead of someone else’s but everyone is different. While it may be too late since they’re sick and they’re already there the reality is that once they’ve shuffled on back home, clean their path and everywhere they touched to prevent the spread of germs. This goes double in retail or restaurant. Seriously, what are you doing at work? That’s not only putting your coworkers at risk but also your customers. My super unpopular opinion here is… you’re not being a hero by showing up. Call it in, please.

I’m already sick, what now?

Go home, if you’re at work or in person. That coworker or customer could be immunocompromised what’s a sniffle to you may end up being pneumonia or worse to them. A few days to you may be weeks or months. Showing up or staying to stick it out does not make you a hero, especially to those coworkers or customers.

If you are at home, the best thing is to rest and alleviate the symptoms to help you feel better. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold or flu except for not getting it or once you have it, time and rest. Those commercials trying to sell you vitamin C are not going to speed up the process or prevent it completely. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re lacking vitamin C, for sure, take a supplement but be realistic about how much they actually do.

Hopefully, we can avoid the worst of the cold season.

Alas, it’s too late for me…

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