Why Come To Work Sick?

Editors Note: Just a quick post here, more of a thought than anything, on what went through my mind the other week when I caught the flu. I hope you enjoy! – Louie 

Did you get the bug that was going around? That seems like the phrase people use at least twice a year. Usually when the seasons change, right? So what happens when you do get sick? Maybe you go to school anyway and get your peers sick. Or, maybe you still go to school and are less productive than usual, as a result. Maybe you’re like me, and when you get sick you don’t want to do anything, so you don’t, but then you mentally beat yourself up because you feel unproductive. So, naturally, you try to get work done, but you’re not productive so you continue to be sick and get zero work done. If nothing else, this is a journal entry for myself. I faced this recently, and it took me about a day to realize that I should have just stayed home and rested instead of being unproductive for a whole week. Let’s explore this one a little further.

 

If you read nothing else

According to a Harvard Business Review article in 2004, the United States loses an estimate of $150 billion each year from employees taking off work for illnesses like heartburn, headaches, and fevers. This also seems to take into account the people who are unproductive because of their illness. It’s ironic, right? You come to work to not do work. But that’s the society we live in. We feel bad for taking time off to better our health. Instead of being unproductive for five days, wouldn’t it be better to take off a full day and get some rest? Apparently, some recent research is agreeing with that statement, as local public health doctors, according to The Guardian, are reporting that you should stay home with a fever for at least 24 hours. If you can afford to stay home for two days, you reduce your chances of spreading your sickness by 40%. Oh, and one more thing, wash your hands! More reports are saying that warm, soapy water rinses for at least 20 seconds are what will minimize your chances of getting sick in the first place. So, in short, you should try and stay home when you are sick, seriously, think about it. You get sick, you come to work and get three other people sick. Now four people are unproductive instead of one. I think most bosses in America would agree that you should take time off, especially if it means only one person is out instead of more. 

 

Why is this even a question?

Working on a weekend, holiday, when ill, are all norms for us at this point. We literally are working ourselves to death! The BBC has pulled some studies of their own and reported that people tend to go into work when they are sick as sort of a “Show and Tell”. We’re essentially showing people that we truly are sick, justifying to ourselves the need to take off the following day. “Look how sick I am people, you should now have no reason to think my day off tomorrow is unjustified” is what we say to ourselves. Whether it’s having a strict payroll team breathing down your back, or the constant build-up of group projects, homework, and group activities, sometimes it seems like staying home from work and school is more work than it’s worth. I mean, who likes to come back to school with more to do than when you got sick? No one.

 

How can you combat this?

In all honesty, this is going to be up to your own judgment. It’s often tricky because you are the only one who truly knows how you feel. You have to be the one to decide what you should do. Sometimes, you are just too sick to go to class and pay attention for long periods of time, but you can still work from home. Working from the comfort of your own home can do you wonders and still keep you productive, but if you choose to stay home, make sure you get work done. We all know the day, we choose to stay home, and we eat, sleep, and lounge around. All of a sudden our roommate comes home from class and we look at the clock to realize it’s 6:00 pm and we’ve done nothing! Working from home can keep your colleagues healthy, and also get work done in your pajamas, but let’s all vow to actually work if we feel up to it. Deal? Deal. 

 

Lastly, if you just feel awful, get some rest and eat some soup! You would much rather prefer to rest one day and then be productive the next, instead of being unproductive for a whole week. We all know that point where we’ve had enough, but we also know that point where we can work and just feel a bit crummy, but you have to make that decision! In the end, don’t feel bad if you have to take time off, after all, we’re all human, just make sure you keep killing it when you’re healthy! 

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