Getting sick isn’t something you’d wish for yourself, even if you dread going to work. I get that there are days when you just want to sleep longer and have a bit of time for yourself, especially if you have a highly-stressful job. Catching a cold or getting the flu may seem minor compared to other ailments but it can affect your focus, energy and how you carry yourself. Apart from the constant sneezing, runny nose, coughing and over-all feeling of malaise, there’s that siren call to just stay under the covers and let sleep do its healing wonders.
What if you still have to go to work, despite being sick? Maybe you think it isn’t as bad, maybe you feel like you can still function even if you sniffle and cough here and there or maybe your boss requires you to still come in for whatever reason. Here are some workplace etiquette tips to keep in mind when you fall sick:
- If you are encouraged to use your sick leave, please do. One of the ways you can practice good etiquette at work is to not get your colleagues sick by spreading whatever virus or bacteria you have. If however, you choose to or are still required to come to work, remember to keep sanitizer or alcohol with you, wear a face mask and bring tissues and wet wipes.
- After sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose or using the toilet, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Wipe dry with a towel or tissue because damp hands can spread germs more than dry hands. The sad thing about some workplace toilets in office buildings is that you can’t always be confident that soap and tissue are available. Due to this, I’ve made it a habit to bring my own alcohol, tissue and a small bottle of hand soap just so I can keep my hands sanitized.
- If you’re not wearing a face mask and have to sneeze or cough, PLEASE do the very thing we are taught as early as kindergarten: COVER YOUR MOUTH and keep the germs to yourself. I remember I had a co-worker whose cubicle was next to mine and she had a bad, phlegm-y cough. She kept coughing outright without covering her mouth or even saying “excuse me.” I wanted so much to call her out but I didn’t want to embarrass her. I messaged her privately and told her that I would appreciate it if she covered her mouth whenever she coughs because I wouldn’t want to catch her bug. She laughed it off, made a big deal about it and told our other co-workers. Some poked fun at me for telling her off, while others thought it was silly that she actually embarrassed herself by showing how she’s a grown woman who can’t even do a very elementary hygienic gesture.
- Please do not spit at the common-use sink. I understand the feeling of wanting to expel phlegm that’s stuck in your throat, but please spit into a tissue, dispose of it properly and wash your hands (or use alcohol). It is unsightly to see phlegm marks on the sink. Remember, these are still bodily fluids that should not be carelessly disposed.
- Use your own utensils and cups at work, even if you are not sick. These are personal belongings that are not meant to be shared.
- Be mindful of your pregnant co-workers. If you can take antibiotics to fight off a bacterial infection or medicines to ease your symptoms, pregnant women can’t do so easily. Remember, they’re carrying a baby and when it comes to medicines, they have to get clearance from their ob-gynecologist if it’s safe to take while they’re pregnant.
These may appear rigid for some, however, if you experience firsthand falling ill and missing work days because a co-worker gets you sick, then you should also be mindful of how you manage your sickness, practice good hygiene and etiquette. 🙂
-Mrs. Ingrid P.