How to Avoid the Office Cold or Flu
January 3, 2022
With everyone heading back to the office, it’s time to start plotting ways to protect yourself from that cold or flu that always seems to be “going around” at work.
The past year taught us that if we isolate ourselves from other human beings, we’re far less likely to get a cold or the flu. But there are less extreme precautions you can take to stay healthy.
- Avoid places that are packed with people – and germs
To avoid getting sick, it’s important to understand how illnesses spread. For example, doorknobs, the handles of pantry cupboards, and copy machine buttons are breeding grounds for germs. So are other places. Just think where people hang out at the office: coffee areas, break rooms, water coolers – all are places where germs can easily spread. Obviously, you can’t avoid these areas but keep your time there brief. And, make sure you wash your hands after touching shared surfaces.
- Sanitize your hands before eating or touching your face
Soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs, but alcohol-based sanitizer is highly effective in killing germs on your hands. Just make sure your hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol. Sanitizing after every handshake might be seen as an overreaction, but do it before eating or putting your hands near your eyes, mouth, nose, or any open cuts. Most workplaces have hand sanitizer dispensers, but if yours does not, get your own small container and keep it on your desk.
- Clean doorknobs, computers, and other office surfaces
Don’t count on your workplace cleaning service to kill germs on all shared surfaces. No one can keep up with surfaces that many people touch daily, like elevator buttons, doorknobs, sink handles, computer keyboards, and light switches. To help reduce germ spread in the office, make it a habit to wipe down your workstation with a sanitizer. And don’t be reluctant to wipe down doorknobs or buttons you come in contact with.
- Get a flu shot
The seasonal flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, but getting a shot can help make sure the flu you get is milder. One study found that adults who got a flu vaccine but still got sick were 26% less likely to require intensive care, and vaccinated patients who ended up in the hospital were 31% less likely to die from the flu than people who were not vaccinated. Plus, flu shots are as much about protecting others as they are about protecting you. It’s less likely to have a flu outbreak in an office where 75% of workers are vaccinated.
- Take a sick day or work from home
We’re past the days when employees felt they needed to go to the office, no matter how sick they were. If you’re coughing, sneezing, and generally unwell, call in sick. It helps you recover and helps to protect your coworkers. The last thing you want to do is drag yourself to work and infect coworkers with your cold or flu.If you don’t feel sick enough to take a sick day, talk to your manager about working from home. COVID-19 has made many people supportive of distance work. And if you happen to manage others, remember that it’s your job to help set the standards.
If you’re coughing and sneezing, you may be contagious – and could easily infect coworkers. Stay home! But if you need a flu shot or need to see a doctor, call us at (404) 616-1000 and schedule an appointment.