Coming to work sick

The only thing worse than being sick, is being sick and forcing yourself to go to work. Who does this? A lot more people come to work sick than you might think. Maybe you’ve even done it yourself. Of course, there’s sick and then there’s… sick. You have to know your body. You also have to understand what is and what is not a critical work obligation. For example, a deal that’s been months in the making could persuade you to go into the office sick and against your better judgment. Perhaps you may even enlist the help of Dayquil and Theraflu, and they are enough to get you through your work day. However, when you are sick it is often better to stay at home.

When You Go to Work Sick

Your co-workers sanitize and re-sanitize their desks. They are likely to talk about how you should have stayed home every time you get up to find more Kleenex. But you already know this, because you do it too! Yet you and countless others insist on coming to work sick. Why? It could be a matter of losing vacation days or even a fear of not being believed. Either way, it’s a terrible feeling for you and your co-workers.

It’s a Management Problem

We all get sick. No one should be penalized for being human. Certainly no one wants to have days they’ve already set aside for an end of the year vacation to be used  to accommodate the flu. Unfortunately, when sick days and vacation days are lumped together, that’s exactly what happens. You could even end up borrowing days from the following year. It creates a vicious cycle. To all the managers reading this, make sure your team knows that you’d rather they stay home when they are not feeling well. Have employees do what work they are able to do remotely instead. It’s important to not place other employees at risk of sickness or lower team productivity as a result of being distracted.

Being Sick at Work

Even if you have a ton of work to do, it’s best to stay home and rest, or you could prolong your illness. If you have to come in sick for some reason, you should ensure everyone is informed of the very important reason that warrants your presence at the office. Let your colleagues know you’ll be leaving immediately after the event, meeting, task or presentation is over. If you sit with a group or team, relocate yourself to a more removed area whenever possible. You should not be within close proximity to your co-workers unless you absolutely need to be. Be sure you have hand sanitizer, and use it often.

The Bottom Line

If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s best to stay home from work when you are sick. Of course, there is a difference between being “under the weather” and actually being sick. Only you can determine where to draw the line for yourself. Hopefully your relationship with your manager is a healthy one, so you won’t fear communicating that you need to stay home. Make sure you communicate to your team what they should and should not expect from you while you’re home sick. Don’t over promise when it comes to what you are capable of accomplishing while ill. If you’re drowsy, you could fall asleep and miss the conference call you said you would still attend which will be far worse than stating you’re not able to make it from the beginning.

If you find that you’re getting a lot of resistance from the organization and its leaders when it comes to working from home when sick, it may be time to rethink the values of the organization.