NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Q: How do I work in the office while sick without disrupting all of my co-workers?
A: No one wants to be that person in the office who is constantly blowing their nose and coughing up a lung while those nearby look on in disgust, but chances are most workers have been in this position at one point or another.
“Employers should encourage their workers to stay home, but that’s not the reality,” says Ryan Hunt, a career adviser with the job site Careerbuilder, who notes that employees often feel pressured to drag themselves into the office to take care of whatever work needs to get done. In fact, one Careerbuilder survey from last year found that nearly three-quarters of workers typically go to work while sick.
If you feel uncomfortable taking the day off from work for any reason, Hunt says the next best option is to ask your boss if you can work from home for a day or two so you can tackle your workload and get a little extra rest. If you absolutely need to be there in person, Hunt recommends a few tricks to be productive at work while sick without creating too much of a disruption and hurting everyone else’s productivity.
For starters, he suggests asking your manager if you can reserve a conference room or empty office for the day so you can stay out of everyone’s hair. If there is no spare room, he says you should be mindful to make your way to the bathroom anytime you have a coughing or sneezing fit.
You also might consider carrying around hand sanitizer and cleaning your desk during the day. Depending on how sick you are, Hunt says it may make sense to avoid the kitchen or lounge area where people congregate and instead eat lunch at your desk or outside the office.
Along the same lines, Hunt urges sick workers to recuse themselves from meetings that day unless it’s absolutely essential for them to attend.
“The last thing you want to do is have a coughing spell in the middle of a meeting that will make everyone else uncomfortable,” he says. “You can still be at work and be respectful of other people.”
Seth Fiegerman is a staff writer at MainStreet. You can e-mail him your career questions at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.