Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, piles of germy tissues…it’s no wonder your co-workers are giving you the stink eye. They’re just too polite to say what we’re all thinking: For the love of God, leave your sick germy ass home.
This may seem elementary (didn’t our mothers always teach us to stay in bed and sip chicken noodle soup when we have a nasty cold or flu?), but according to a new poll from Staples, nearly 80 percent of office workers don’t do that. In fact, they assume that their company will come to an absolute standstill if they don’t show up, so they choose to pass their germs along to the rest of us. How thoughtful.
And even if your co-workers are polite enough to take a sick day, more than two-thirds of them said they return to work while they are still contagious. Grrreat. Bring on the antibacterial wipes.
So why is this? Why do many of us (you know who you are) hesitate to call in sick? The most prevalent response was worrying about not getting the work done. Others said they didn’t want to burn up their sick days (you know, in case they really needed a sick day down the road because this pesky flu doesn’t count).
What’s more, half of all respondents admitted to not cleaning their desks or computers regularly. Meaning, even though germs can live for days in and around our workspace, employees aren’t disinfecting their keyboards after they sneeze or cough into their hands. And then here’s what happens: You happen to walk by their cube, they need help formatting that spreadsheet, you are a nice little co-worker and tap, tap, tap on their keyboard…and guess what? Yep, at the end of the week, you now have the flu. What is that they say about no good deed going unrewarded?
So, your best defense (assuming you can’t get your boss to let you telecommute)? Other than not touching anything ever again in your office (doorknobs, keyboards, elevator buttons, that germ-infested spout on the water cooler), wash your hands regularly, use antibacterial wipes and share them freely.
And if the next person with a cold happens to be you, well, you know what to do.