Sick Policy: Take Your Runny Nose Home

by Noah Mishkin
May 16, 2017

I'm not alone in saying that dedication and reliability are principles I look for in an employee. Commitment to your job is important. But there also seems to be a cultural social competition among friends and colleagues over how hard we all work. Go ahead, ask your friend how work is going. I'll bet the response includes raised eyebrows, a slight nod, and a description of how "work is insane", and that it's "good, but so busy".

I get it. You work hard. That's a good thing, and feeling proud of your efforts demonstrated and results produced is important. But what's not good is when personal drive and commitment leads to making selfish choices, like showing up at the office when a fever is brewing.

A common assumption, or misconception, is that missing work is limited only to when you're on vacation or else utterly and completely incapacitated, curled up in the fetal position barely able to reach a phone to call in sick. I’ve seen you people on the train, getting coffee, in a meeting. It goes something like this:

Friendly Office Pal: “Why are you here? You don’t look so good.”
Germ-Ridden-Mucus-Hacker: “I’ve got too much work…”

You may think you’re being heroic or afraid of letting your team down, but the truth is you’re compromising the environment and health of the entire office. Being present, you risk contaminating everyone around you, getting others sick and negatively influencing productivity beyond yours alone. Now, that would certainly let the team down.

Moreover, if you have a bad cold (or worse) and decide to go into the office that day, you’re not taking care of your own personal health. Rather, you find yourself struggling to get through the day feeling lethargic and run down, only to return the days that follow with a marginal rate of improvement and quality of work that continues to suffer.

Versus, electing to take care of your health immediately by avoiding extraneous work whilst home on the mend, and instead focus on rest, sleep, medication, and recovery. Your return to work and health is one of improved state and performance, better than had you muscled through the previous day. You’ve also protected your coworkers, making everyone happier, healthier, and more productive. Go home and rest up.

And please don’t touch my mouse.

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