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10 Things You Should Do When You’re Sick at Work

When you wake up feeling under the weather but still face a workday ahead, it can be a real challenge. Whether you have a pressing project, important meetings, or just can’t afford to miss a day, the dilemma of working while sick is something many of us have faced. But don’t panic; there are ways to navigate through it while being considerate of your health and your colleagues. In this article, we will explore 10 things you should do when you find yourself sick at work.

1. Assess Your Condition when Feeling Sick at Work

Before anything else, take a moment to assess your condition. Determine if you’re fit for work. If you have a contagious illness, it’s better to stay home to prevent spreading it to others.

Checking how you’re feeling isn’t only about knowing how bad your symptoms are. It’s also about looking at how you’re doing overall. Think about things like how much energy you have, if you can focus, and if you can do your work well and safely. It’s important to make the right choice for your health, and this helps make the workplace healthier for everyone.

2. Notify Your Supervisor

If you choose to go to work, it’s a good idea to tell your boss about being sick as soon as you can. Being open and honest when you’re not feeling well is important. It’s a professional thing to do, and it also helps your boss make changes to fit your situation.

When you keep your employer informed, it helps work go more smoothly. It lets your boss rearrange tasks, get someone else to help you if necessary, or change meeting times if that works better.

3. Maintain Good Hygiene

When you’re not feeling well at work, it’s very important to stay super clean to keep yourself and your coworkers safe. Here are some essential hygiene practices to follow:

  • Frequent Handwashing: Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Keep a hand sanitiser with you and use it when you can’t access soap and water. Make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover Coughs and Sneezes: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissues properly and avoid using your hands.
  • Avoid Touching Your Face: Try to refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands to minimize the risk of transferring germs.
  • Disinfect Your Workspace: Wipe down your workspace, including your desk, keyboard, mouse, and phone, with disinfectant wipes or sprays to prevent surface contamination.
  • Stick to Respiratory Etiquette: Wear a mask if required or recommended, especially in close quarters or common areas. This is considerate towards your coworkers’ health.

4. Stay Hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration is essential when you’re under the weather. Drinking water or herbal tea throughout the day can significantly help alleviate some of your symptoms, such as a sore throat or dry mouth. Moreover, staying hydrated is important for a speedier recovery.

5. Take Short Breaks

When you’re not in your best health, it’s essential to understand what you can and can’t do. Don’t force yourself too much and be ready to take short breaks to relax and regain energy, especially if you have a fever. Pushing too hard can slow down your recovery and make you feel even worse.

6. Prioritize Tasks

When you’re unwell, it’s vital to be careful and thoughtful about the work you take on. Focus on the most important and urgent tasks and understand that trying to do everything may not be realistic or helpful when you’re not feeling your best.

Begin by recognising tasks that need your immediate attention. These could be things with deadlines, crucial meetings, or commitments that can’t be delayed. Once you’ve identified these top-priority items, concentrate your energy and effort on handling them well.

As for less urgent tasks, think about putting them off or assigning them to someone else if you can.

7. Avoid Close Contact

While you’re working, it’s a good idea to keep a bit of space between you and your colleagues. Skip the handshakes and go for different ways to say hello, like a friendly nod or a wave. Keeping some distance and avoiding close chats and physical contact can really help lower the chances of passing your sickness to your coworkers.

8. Take Medication as Prescribed

If your doctor prescribed medication for your sickness, make sure to take it just as they told you. Stick to the right dose and timing for the medicine to work its best.

You can also try over-the-counter remedies to relieve symptoms but be careful if you need to work. Some of them might make you feel sleepy or have other side effects that could slow you down. It’s a good idea to choose meds that don’t make you drowsy or affect your alertness while working. Always follow the instructions on the labels, and if you’re worried about any side effects or interactions with other drugs, talk to a healthcare expert. Remember, your health comes first, even during your workday.

9. Get Adequate Rest After Work

Once your workday is over, make sure to focus on getting some rest and giving your body a chance to recover. Heading home and going to bed early can do wonders for speeding up your healing process. When you get a full night’s sleep, your body gets the time it needs to repair and recharge.

Sleep plays a major role in your recovery plan. By making sure you get enough rest, you’re actively helping yourself feel better. Resist the urge to do strenuous activities or work-related tasks once you’re off the clock. Your health is the most important thing, and getting proper rest is a vital part of the healing process.

10. Learn from Your Experience

Reflect on your experience and consider how you can prevent getting sick at work in the future. Strengthen your immune system, practice good health habits, and make necessary adjustments to avoid a repeat situation.

Being sick at work can be a real challenge, but by following these 10 steps, you can manage your health and still meet your work responsibilities. Remember that your well-being should always be your top priority, and taking precautions to prevent spreading illness is not only considerate but essential for a healthy and productive workplace. Feel free to ask your manager ‘Can you leave work if you feel sick?’ Stay mindful, and make the best choices for your health.

10 Things You Should Do When You’re Sick at Work
Date: 23 November 2023
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