Working in Flu Season

While, in the past, this blog has explored the ups and downs of working from home, one of the biggest advantages has to be avoiding the dreaded flu season. This year’s flu season in the USA is one of the worst in a long time. In many states, governors are declaring “Flu Emergencies” as hundreds of people are being treated for severe flu symptoms.

In a way, the flu is an easier case than most illnesses. When somebody gets the flu, they stay home. The true flu is unmistakable and will knock you off your feet. You won’t be questioning whether or not to make an appearance in the office because your body will be definitively telling you to crawl deeper under your blankets. It’s also fairly clear that anybody who does crawl into work instead is doing everybody around them a huge disservice.

The harder cases are all the other, less severe, illnesses that set in this time of year. In my work community we currently have a stomach bug and an upper respiratory infection flying around. Most people are able to function with these afflictions but feel either intermittently or consistently yucky.

So what should the under-the-weather employee do? Do you stay home even though you know others with the same symptoms are toughing it out or go to work and deal with your co-workers giving you the side-eye for bringing your germs into the office? Is it simply a lose-lose situation?

If I was advising a friend or co-worker, I would tell them to stay home. You will likely recover more quickly and keep your germs to yourself. On the other hand, if I was the one with the noisy, painful cough, I would find it very difficult to take my own advice.

We all think that our presence at the office is infinitely valuable and worry that we will miss out on the next great project or career move if we stay home for even one day. Worse, we are secretly afraid that people will think that we are lazy or slacking off if we stay home.

The sick, but not too sick, conundrum will also exist in work but one approach I’ve successfully used is simply to request to work from home. This isn’t always possible depending on your profession, but if it is, calling your boss the night before your planned absence and saying that you are feeling ill but are going to be working on XYZ project from home can be an effective strategy.

Technology has made working remotely increasingly possible and I find that if I can stay connected to the office via email or even remote log-in software, I am able to stay engaged in my work while staying on my couch for a couple of days. The key to doing this effectively is often planning ahead so that I have the materials required to complete at least some work from home.

When this isn’t possible, always keep in mind that your boss and co-workers are far less likely to resent you for a sick day than for having to listen to you hacking your lungs out all day! What really is going to contribute to sustaining a resilient workgroup?

How do you manage your health?

    Please take the poll on the left sidebar. We’ll report back on the responses.

    I will report back on the responses.

Leave a Reply