Flu season is like that really annoying relative that no matter what will always show up during Thanksgiving Dinner uninvited. And, unlucky for us, they always make a visit every year. Up to 20% of Americans will catch the flu this fall or winter, and personally, I don’t want to risk being part of that category. Ain’t nobody got time to waste in bed sick these days. Worse yet, we usually catch illnesses from the people we are around the most. Therefore, since we spend about 40 hours a week with our co-workers, germs are bound to get transmitted in the workplace. (Wearing a hazmat suit doesn’t usually fit the office dress code, either.)
There’s still time to take precautions against the flu this year, though! Influenza peaks mostly in January and February.
Avoid the Flu at Work
How is the flu spread?
Flu.gov says: “Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.” So basically, when you’re working closely with colleagues, if they spray it when they say it; beware.
How do you prevent the flu at work?
1. Promote the flu vaccine: The best way is to start by getting a flu vaccine so make a conscious effect to persuade colleagues to make sure they receive it.
2. Avoid close interactions when yourself or another is sick: If you notice a co-worker is under the weather, adjust your boundaries to make sure you’re not in their “path of destruction.”
3. Wash your hands….duh!: If you have made it this far in life without developing normal hygiene habits then I suggest you re-evaluate your existence. Don’t be gross and don’t be a dummy, properly sanitize your hands frequently…especially during flu season.
4. Don’t touch your face: Until you make the effort to resist touching your face, you never realize how often we naturally tend to do it.
5. Don’t use a co-worker’s stuff: When a co-worker shows any indication of illness, don’t use their phones, computer, office supplies, etc.
6. Stay home if you’re sick: As much as we feel a sense of guilt missing a day at work, it is far better to allow 24 hours after our fevers disappear before we return. If you think about worrying about productivity, it is far better to give yourself time to get well to dodge having to miss more time because of not getting a recovery. Also, it is a better thing to stay home when you’ve got the flu so that it doesn’t spread to others. It’s better to be short one employee due to illness than several.
You may want to take a day off if you experience:
- Extreme tiredness
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
7. Wipe down your desk: Invest in some disinfecting wipes and frequently wipe your desk down. Don’t forget to sanitize your surface, phone, keyboard and mouse especially.
So do yourself, and your entire team, a favor by taking the steps to avoid preventing the spread of the flu at work.