Cold and flu season is upon us, and if your workplace is fighting off a mass of sick days there are a few things you can do to stay healthy. It’s important to know that germs can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours and that fingers carrying the flu virus can contaminate up to seven clean surfaces. So with that in mind, how are you going to prevent the spread of germs?
Keep Things Clean
While it may be hard to control whether or not your conference tables, door handles, and office equipment have been recently sanitized, you can keep your own hands clean. Make sure you wash your hands often throughout the day, with soap and water and dry them with paper towels or an air dryer. Keep hand sanitizer at your own work station, using it when you get back to your area after coming in contact with high traffic areas. Avoid touching your face after shaking hands or touching a door handle. Carrying germs into your airways through your mouth or nose is an easy way to get sick.
Clean your own work station as well. Think about your phone, keyboard, mouse, machines, and workspace. Consider cleaning them daily when colds are popping up around your office, it should only take about 10 minutes if you don’t have a lot of clutter, and the added benefit could be your increased productivity for having a clean workspace. Make sure you use cleaners that are safe on the surfaces you are cleaning and can kill germs.
Don’t Share …, In Favor of Staying Well
Try to keep the things you share, like pens and staplers, with others to a minimum. Splurge on a packet of unique pens that you really like and always keep one handy so you aren’t tempted to use the office pen that is likely covered with germs. Take the extra steps back to your workstation to use your own stapler, scissors, tape, or other equipment to avoid the germs left behind on shared tools.
Stay Home When You’re Sick
It sounds easier said than done, but now is the time to use your sick leave or sacrifice a day out for the greater good. While you may feel pressure to come into work when you are sick, try to be reasonable about how productive you’ll be when you are running a fever and taking cough medicine every few hours. You may think you are helping your team by coming in sick, but you may be starting a round of sick days taken by your co-workers when you spread your germs. Additionally, if you work in a service position, consider how your customers will feel having to purchase something from someone who is sneezing and coughing everywhere. Nobody likes to be ill, and your co-workers don’t want to be around you when you are under the weather. If you communicate with your supervisor in an honest and direct way, you shouldn’t fear calling in sick. Taking a day out to prevent everyone else from getting sick also shows your dedication to your team.
Do you have any good tips to share on staying health this winter? What is your workplace plan for keeping everyone healthy?
By Rachel Rudisill