Cold and flu season is upon us, and you may have already noticed some of your colleagues coughing and spluttering around the office! Once the pesky germs have made their way through the doors there’s no way of telling who will catch it next!
Catching a seasonal sickness can feel anything but festive; in fact, it can zap your energy and productivity for days or even weeks on end. So, if you’re looking to keep up with your end of year workload, the ’ole cold is definitely one you are going to want to avoid.
But, when all eyes are on you in an office environment, there’s a fine line between taking normal precautions to ward off germs and going overboard to protect yourself, to the point where you end up annoying your co-workers.
So, with that in mind, here are some simple tips that you can use to protect your health, without having to resort to glares or denouncing every co-worker who sneezes within a ten feet radius.
1. Avoid places where people congregate
Where there are people, there are germs. Understanding how diseases spread and what precautions you can take to avoid them is key to winning the battle. It’s important to be aware, for example, that the door handles on office doors and push buttons on copy machines are hotbeds for germs; germs that are being selflessly shared between you and your many co-workers. While we don’t suggest that you lock yourself in your office all day, try not to spend too much time in communal areas, and always wash your hands after touching shared office equipment.
At this time of year, alcohol-free sanitiser is your best friend and ally. Sanitiser can be a convenient and subtle cleansing method if your hands are not visibly dirty. Now, sanitising your hands after every handshake might be overkill, but you can certainly use it (or, even better, wash your hands) without being noticed, and definitely before you touch your nose or mouth.
3. Make a point of getting your flu jab
Common colds can make you feel a little under the weather, however, the flu is a more serious situation which can leave you with fatigue, fever and aches for days on end. Braving the needle and getting the flu jab is as much about protecting others as protecting yourself. If you work in a communal environment, especially in a hospital or other healthcare facility, your annual flu jab is your first line of defence. You could encourage those who work with you to have theirs too – it’s much harder to catch a flu in an office where you and 75% of others around you are vaccinated.
4. Clean your surroundings regularly
Now, you might not have total control over the condition of communal office equipment, but you can certainly keep your little corner of the office in good nick. This means cleaning your work surface, computer and keyboard surfaces, phone, and regularly used office supplies (such as a stapler, pens, or bull-clips) down on a regular basis with an anti-bacterial wipe or spray. This has the added benefit of keeping your workstation tidy and inviting, which is known to increase your productivity!
5. Don’t be afraid to take a sick day
As a dedicated employee, the idea of taking a “sick” day can be a conundrum. But if you’re coughing, sneezing, and generally unwell, it’s important to remember that your illness doesn’t only affect you, but all those around you too. The last thing you or anybody else wants is for you to come to work and infect half a dozen people around you. If you feel well enough, but aren’t in tip top form, you could suggest a work from home day! That way, you get the rest you need, but you can still get some work done.
Dr Seth Rankin is Founder of London Doctors Clinic