Nobody likes getting sick, and for millions of Americans the misery of sneezing, sore throats and coughing is compounded by having to make the decision of whether or not to go to work or stay home. There is a lot of pressure on some people, either external or self-imposed, to “tough it out” and go to work even when sick. But he truth is being “tough” might actually do more harm, both to yourself and to your coworkers. When you need to decide whether to go to work or stay home and nurse a cold, here are some tips to follow.
One of the big considerations that should keep a sick employee home is whether or not the illness is contagious. Whether sick with a simple cold or with the flu or another more serious illness, being in close contact with other people creates the opportunity for germs to jump ship, spreading from you to anyone you work with. If you decide to bring your cold to work, you could end up impacting many of your coworkers by spreading the illness. Not only does that make more people sick and miserable, but it can negate any potential benefits of your presence at work anyway. If you believe that your absence will cause unacceptable delays in work projects, consider the impact of a rash of illness that affects multiple coworkers, causing both absences and decreased work performance for an entire office. Staying home and avoiding the chance of infecting other people might be the most efficient way to keep work going.
Your own work performance is another thing to consider. It’s not always easy to tell how badly you are impaired by a cold, especially if it is not severe. You may not realize that you are slower at making decisions and that you are not thinking as well as you usually do. If you have a severe cold and are certain that you cannot function in your job, it’s easier to stay home. But if you have a moderate cold, it may still be better to stay home for a day and recover instead of going to work and making poor decisions that will cause trouble later. Also, if you need to take any medicines for your illness, consider the effects they have on you. If you are taking any medicines that make you feel drowsy or slow down your thinking, it’s better to stay home and especially to avoid driving or operating machinery.
A lot of people actually hurt themselves by trying to push through a cold with their normal levels of activity and end up extending the length and severity of their symptoms, as well as making themselves more susceptible to further illness. The body needs a lot of energy to fight off a cold and recover, which is why the best thing to do with a cold is to rest and take good care of your body. A day of rest at the beginning of a cold can mean feeling much better three or four days later, as opposed to suffering with symptoms for much longer. It can also mean avoiding further colds, as working too hard while you are sick strains your immune system and makes it less able to fight off infections.
If you feel the early symptoms of a cold, stop and think before you try to continue your normal daily routines, especially going to work. For the sake of your own health and fast recovery, and for the sake of your coworkers and shared work, it may just be better to take a day off.