In some latest polling information it has been reported that nearly 80 percent of office workers come to work even when they know they are sick. For those that stay home, more than two-thirds return to work when they are still contagious, putting coworkers' health and business productivity at risk. In a typical year, approximately 70 million missed workdays can be attributed to having the flu which can be translated to an estimated $10 billion in lost office productivity.
So how do you know if you have the flu or the common cold? Both have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell the difference. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.
Unless you have young children where you basically just have to come to terms that if they’re sick, you’re going to be sick, the tricks to avoid catching the flu or cold are pretty simple.
1. Wash your hands! Wash after you shake hands, after you go to the “facilities” and by gosh WASH BEFORE YOU EAT!
2. Clean and disinfect your workspace! (when was the last time YOU actually wiped down your desk, phone, keyboard or mouse with a disinfectant wipe?)
3. Stay Away! Coughs and sneezes spread diseases! Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms – respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes can spread for up to 6 feet!
4. Get your Flu Shot! (and no, the flu shot will not give you the flu...)
Let’s do a case study:
One of my colleagues and I were at a conference this week from Sunday to Tuesday. As luck would have it, this also happens to correspond to the first 3 days my cold came on. With the cold viruses, the first 3 days tend to be when you are most infectious and colds generally have an incubation period of 2 – 5 days. To my defense, I covered my mouth when I sneezed or coughed, sat at the end of the rows to try and keep my distance from others and washed my hands or used hand sanitizer CONSTANTLY! Melissa who I was travelling with has started showing signs of a cold (she sat beside me on the plane, at the conference – definitely not 6 feet away from my respiratory droplets regardless of how well I tried to contain them). She’s coming to work. She’s definitely infectious.
Assuming by Monday, several more team members are showing symptoms of a cold, am I to blame? I didn’t come to work while sick – I was away! It’s Melissa’s fault right?
PS – sorry to anyone who attended #SocialintelATL if you’re coming down with a cold.....