Flu season is upon us and probably someone in your office has already gone to ground this year. We hope they didn’t bring their germs to work. Many people do try to work through colds and flu, even though they probably shouldn’t. Here are some tips for keeping yourself–and your co-workers–from passing around a nasty bug:

  • Wipe down–If your office does not provide them, keep a box of sanitizing wipes at your desk. Use them to wipe off your phone and other hard surfaces frequently. Cold and flu germs can live on hard surfaces for up to three days.
  • Wash your hands often, not just after using the restroom. 
  • Be proactive–You are most contagious before you are symptomatic. If someone in your family is sick but you are feeling fine, be aware of your potential for being a carrier and do everything you can to prevent the spread of virus.
  • Use your elbow, not your hand. Most adults were taught to cover their mouths with their hand when sneezing or coughing but your elbow does a better job of trapping germy droplets. And you’re not going to use your elbow to say hello.
  • Decline the handshake–Although it can be awkward, declining to shake hands at all can make a big difference. Encourage your whole office to take a break from handshaking so no one gets offended.
  • Stay home–It’s likely you can get some of your work done if you are feeling well enough, but the lost productivity from extending your illness and giving it to your colleagues is much greater than that of your taking a couple of days off to rest and recuperate. Do everyone a favor. Take advantage of technology and keep your germs to yourself.

In cold and flu season, I am especially grateful to be a remote worker, not only for myself but for my co-workers who don’t have to be exposed to all the germs the kids can pick up at school. Sometimes Skype is really a godsend.

Do you have any special tricks you use to stay healthy at work? We would love to hear them.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative