What You Should Do When Everyone in the Office is Sick?

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

There’s a nasty bug going around offices across the nation this season. Here are some of the best tips to help you stay healthy.

There’s a nasty bug going around offices across the nation this season.

For reason’s unknown to employees everywhere, cold and flu season has reared its ugly head a second time this year to include a spring session.

If you’re lucky enough to have stayed healthy so far, it’s safe to guess that you’d like to keep it that way. If you’ve already got/had it, it’s also safe to assume that you’d like to steer clear of the next one for a while.

After having my fair share of office illnesses this year, I decided to do some research to figure out how I can better prevent illnesses as they hit my workplace. Here are the best tips I found during my research.

Related Article: Is Your Job Killing You? How to Stay Healthy at Work

1. Keep Your Cups Clean

As we fill our water bottles and coffee mugs each morning, it can be easy to forget the fact that they’ve been sitting out for part of the day and all of the night before. If you leave your cups, mugs, and water bottles on your desk in between use, be sure to clean them meticulously each morning with hot water and soap. Office germs are commonly spread through sneezes and coughs that reach the items we use throughout the day.

On that note, it will be extremely important to keep your water glass or bottle clean and full throughout the day. According to Joel Blass, medical director at Workmen's Circle MultiCare Center in the New York, “Losing fluids tends to dry your mucous membranes, weakening that first level of defense, which in turn makes you more susceptible to contracting cold and flu viruses.” 

2. Eat Outside of Common Areas

Avoiding others with the office bug as much as possible is an important part of preventing illness. You’ll be stuck with others who are sick during meetings or if they sit around you at your desk, but taking a lunch break away from them helps to decrease your exposure, especially since lunch typically includes eating and drinking.

If you can, take your lunch at home or go out to lunch a couple times during the week to get away from others who’ve contracted the office illness. If you yourself are sick and still contagious, it would be courteous of you to either take a sick day or at least take your lunch outside of the common areas.

3. Sanitize Frequently

The Purell at your desk really proves its value when a cold or flu hits your office. Each time a sick coworker visits your desks or stops for a conversation in the hallway, be sure to quickly follow that interaction with hand sanitizer. Keeping a tube of antibacterial wipes at your desk can also help by allowing you to frequently clean germs off of your desk if others around you are coughing or sneezing.

One additional tip I received from a physician was to cleanse my face, arms, and hands immediately after returning home. Even if it means reapplying your makeup to go out later, washing the germs off with warm water and soap prior to getting settled in at home will help keep colds and the flu at bay.

Related Article: How To Stay Healthy When You Sit At A Desk All Day

4. Enlist Homeopathic Help

Although homeopathic remedies are often met with skepticisim, many healthcare professionals and individuals swear by their powers when it comes to cold and flu prevention. Some of the top homeopathic supplements Web MD suggests to prevent or shorten the duration of a cold or flu include Echinacea and Elderberry.

Experts suggest that purchasing a humidifier for your desk can also help prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses. According to Health.com, influenza virus transmission can be greatly affected by how wet or dry the air is.

If you’d like to super charge the powers of your humidifier, essential oil pros suggest that you add two drops each of rosemary oil, eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil, and orange oil to your humidifier for an added immunity boost.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

According to a recent study, adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are more likely to catch a cold than those who consistently get at least seven hours of sleep. If an office cold is going around, one of the simplest things you can do to prevent getting sick is to get a good night’s sleep.

If you have a busy schedule, try to clear a few items out of it to stay healthy rather than try to push through. If you have trouble sleeping at night, natural remedies like melatonin can help without making you feel groggy the next day.

On top of getting enough sleep, reducing stress can also help strengthen your body’s defense against cold and flu bugs. Although most jobs are naturally stressful from time to time, there are steps you can take to create a less stressful environment for yourself.

Related Article:Bullying in the Workplace: Is California's Healthy Workplace Bill the Answer?

6. Take Your Vitamins and Minerals

This should be a given, but taking the right vitamins and minerals is an essential part of fighting off illness. A multi-vitamin should do the trick, but if you’re worried during cold and flu seasons, it might be worth it to take a few extra supplements. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals you’ll need to ward off illnesses are Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc.

Hopefully this guide will help you prevent the next cold or flu that hits your office. If you’re currently the “sick one” at your office, you might consider taking steps to help your coworkers achieve this goal too.

You can find additional tips for that here. If you’ve got some tips of your own, I’d love to hear them.

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