In the frantic pace of life, taking a day off from work is almost unacceptable. But it is important to objectively analyse if the desire to stay away from work is indeed justified, or just a bout of laziness. Your colleagues may be better off missing you rather than having you around in certain circumstances.
When to stay home
While most common ailments are considered run-of-the-mill excuses for staying away from work, it is often these very diseases that can cause considerable loss of productivity in the office. Worse still, it could result in spreading the illness to a few others as well - unintentionally of course!
Having woken up with a blocked nose and a throbbing headache, ever had doubts whether you should stay home, against your workaholic instinct? Chances are you should, if the symptoms are accompanied by body pain as well. There are few things worse than spreading influenza around, and certainly your boss won't appreciate you getting him sick.
Common cold and cough
Coughing may not seem like a dire condition or a valid reason to stay home. However, it can be quite disturbing for your colleagues to work around while you are shrieking your lungs out through the day. If your coughing fits last for more than a couple of days, it is advisable to see your physician who can prescribe suppressants to ease your agony, and that of those who work around you.
Common cold can create a chaos at work. Considered the lamest of excuses to skip office, it is often a prudent thing to stay at home with the cold at its peak. With a running nose and clogged breathing channel, it is unlikely that you will get much work done anyway. On the contrary, there is a risk that your teammates may catch the cold.
The apparently innocuous cold can actually bring an entire office to its knees. Being contagious, the infection spreads rather effortlessly through computer keys, files and folders, elevator buttons, even coffee-vending machines. Medication for cold and body aches are likely to make you drowsy at the workplace. Besides, fever could also mean a dehydrated body that is incapable of working well without sufficient rest.
Conjunctivitis is another condition in which you should stay home — at least until the intensity subsides. With antibiotics and eye drops, it is barely possible to do any work, especially one that involves long hours in front of a computer. Rather than distributing eye-protection gear generously around the office, it is better to steer clear.
No matter what the nature of the illness, if the job requires a high amount of alertness - like those involving piloting a plane or driving a bus in rush hour traffic - the decision leaves little choice but to take the day off. There are graver risks involved here and if you cannot make the decision, hope that your boss can do it for you. In such scenarios, hiding one's illness can have irrevocable consequences.
When not to stay at home
Muscular pain, by itself, may not warrant staying away from work. If the intensity of pain forces you to think of nothing else, you are not going to get anything accomplished at work. If painkillers help relieve the pain, you can continue work. But in the long run, overdependence on drugs to ensure productivity can have the contrary effect.
Instances of chronic and severe backache may still push the workaholic in you. Not having to bend your back for physical work will not arrest the pain. In fact, staying stuck at the computer monitor for long hours will only aggravate the pain. Few doctors actually recommend staying home from work for backache. But even when they do, they insist that people suffering from backache not lie in bed all day but rather move around the house a bit. This is a call you can make based on sound information of the extent of injury, your doctor's advice, and your tolerance for pain.
But don't let half-excuses become full-blown causes for trouble with the boss. Mere sniffling will not get you the doctor's certificate. An occasional cough is okay, as also a moderate cold brought on by the dropping temperature in the company's air conditioning system. Don't stay home longer than the prescribed time until it becomes absolutely necessary. Conversely, rushing back to work means insufficient time for recovery and possibility of a relapse.
There is a delicate line between deciding whether an illness merits rest or not. The situation becomes worse when missing more than a couple of days at a new place of work could mean retrenchment or even loss of job. In such situations, decision-making becomes a bit more complex. But generally, watch any symptoms with concern as well as restraint, and take early measures to ensure you are back on your feet in no time.
But these decisions are better aided by healthy rapport between members of the team or one's immediate subordinates or superiors. Knowing that you are susceptible to certain ailments can help you plan around less productive days. The determining factor that decides whether you should be at the workplace is to assess: whether you can give it your best or would you simply end up being a liability?
Infection control at the workplace
Infection control in the workplace aims to prevent pathogens from coming into contact with a person in the first place. Every workplace should have an appropriate first aid kit, with at least one staff member trained in first aid. Infection control procedures relating to good personal hygiene include:
- Hand washing - the spread of many pathogens can be prevented with regular hand washing. You should thoroughly wash your hands with water and soap for at least 15 seconds after visiting the toilet, before preparing food, and after touching clients or equipment. Dry your hands with disposable paper towels.
- Unbroken skin - intact and healthy skin is a major barrier to pathogens. Any cuts or abrasions should be covered with a waterproof dressing.
- Team CW
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