Keep Your Germs Out of the Office, Please!

One of my biggest pet peeves, and #3 on the list of the top 10 most annoying office habits of all time, is people who come to work when they are clearly in the throes of some horrible plague-like disease.

Turns out I am not alone in my griping. I found a post on WhiteCoat Underground authored by–you guessed it–a medical doctor who recommends taking a few days off not only to heal faster but to keep co-workers healthy.

“When I see a patient with the flu, strep throat, and other infectious diseases, I recommend that they take several days off from work—not just to recover, but to avoid sharing the bugs. A high percentage of my patients refuse, due to fears of losing their jobs. These fears are usually legitimate.

Are we insane?!?”

I know that as Americans, we only get a few, precious vacation days every year and want to make the most of them when we get the chance. However, I beg you, if you are sick, please, please take a day or two away from the office. Your co-workers will thank you and you’ll feel a lot better a lot faster.

Update 3.15.08

Ha! Now it’s official—even BusinessWeek agrees with me.

According to BusinessWeek, the effects of going into work sick are “unfair, fourfold.” Here are the four reasons they list for why you should not go into work when you are sick:

  1. You can’t perform your best if you’re not feeling well so your work and/or customers suffer the consequences.
  2. You put your co-workers, their families and anyone else they come in contact with at risk of illness. That is an exponential spread of germs.
  3. You increase your employer’s health care costs when multiple employees all have to go to the doctor to cure their colds.
  4. You’re being unfair to yourself by not giving yourself proper time to heal.

And really, is work not miserable enough as it is without adding a fever, coughing and sneezing?


One response »

  1. People coming into work when they’re obviously sick, is one of my biggest pet peeves. Working in the video game industry, more specifically QA, I already come into contact with plenty of “unsavory” characters throughout my day. The last thing I need is the guy sitting next to me coughing out his lungs all day long.

    However, I think the fear of losing one’s job is a very legitimate reason for coming into work when you’re sick. In the video game industry, there is always someone just around the corner, that is willing to do your job for longer hours and lower pay. If you are taking multiple days off with any kind of frequency, you will be replaced in a heartbeat. In highly competitive fields, sometimes you can’t afford to be taking sick days.

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