How many times have you found yourself saying—with a nasal voice and crumpled tissues in hand—”I’m sick…something has been going around the office.”
The office. Like a school classroom, it can quickly become a hotbed of germs. And if your office is a classroom, then we truly feel for you. To help protect you and your co-workers all year long, we’ve compiled seven must-follow advice to minimize the spread of germs and promote wellness in the workplace.
- Wash Your Work Clothes. According to research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), when someone sneezes, germs can travel up to 200 feet—or about two-thirds the length of a football field. Even if you don’t come in direct contact with a sneezing (or coughing) coworker, germs can cling to clothes and eventually make you sick. Always wash your work clothes, even if it means extra trips to the dry cleaners.
- Just Say No to Office Treats. Germs aren’t the only workplace hazard you should fear. You know that generous co-worker who always keeps a jar of candy stocked on her desk? If you get into the habit of grabbing a piece (or two) every time you pass by, it could result in a few extra pounds by the time the annual holiday party rolls around. Resist the urge to stop and taste the Smarties.
- Don’t be an Overachiever. You may have earned your last promotion through long hours and hard work, but you could be putting your health at risk. If you have a desk job, then working nine, ten, or even twelve or more hours a day means you’re likely not getting enough exercise and could be experiencing too much mental strain and emotional stress—all of which can negatively impact your overall health.
- Get Up and Move. Why not turn your morning stand-up meeting into a walking meeting outside if weather permits? Even an extra ten or fifteen minutes of activity in the form of a brisk walk can help to clear your mind, increase blood flow, and rejuvenate your mood.
- Get Your Flu Shot. When flu season rolls around in the Fall, protect yourself by getting immunized. If your office offers free flu shots for staff, make time for an appointment. That three hundredth email of the day can wait ten more minutes.
- Say Home When You’re Sick. We understand that your team needs you, but you don’t need to go into the office and power through feeling sick. Not only could you slow your recovery time, but you could also end up infecting others, which will have an even more detrimental effect on your team if half of them end up being out sick during the same week—because you didn’t want to impact departmental productivity.
- Clean Your Desk. Again. According to a report by CNN Health, the average workplace desktop has almost 21,000 germs per square inch, and the office desk phone has more than 25,000 germs per square inch. Make it part of your weekly ritual to disinfect your desk. Then share your cleaning supplies with your cubicle mates so they can de-germ their surroundings too.
The average worker will spend over 90,000 hours at the office throughout their lifetime. By staying vigilant about the threat of germs and practicing these workplace wellness tips, you can use your two weeks of PTO this year for that vacation to Hawaii you’ve always wanted to take—and not to battle bronchitis.