Ah, flu season is here at your office again. Isn’t this time of year so delightful? Not only does this nagging ailment spread like wildfire, but it also seems nearly impossible to prevent. Each time the stomach flu season rolls around, it seems like everyone in the cube farm starts coughing, wheezing, wiping their nose, and using up ungodly amounts of Kleenex. Of course, this could just be a result of you simply noticing these symptoms due to a paranoia of catching the flu. Of course, this wouldn’t be so bad if office germs didn’t absolutely ruin productivity rates throughout the company. And with the new year just arriving, you should avoid starting off on the wrong foot by using up a bunch of sick days. To do that, you’re going to need to learn how to prevent the stomach flu and nasty office germs in your work space.
Is this goal actually possible, or is a flu-free work space really just a pipe dream of happy, starry eyed utopia? I’m here to tell you that it is in fact entirely possible provided you follow a few of these commonsense tips, tricks, and advice. Here’s how to prevent stomach flu at your office this season.
How to Prevent the Stomach Flu: Keep it simply clean, stupid!
Germs can, do, and will travel
Typically speaking, if an area looks dirty, it is full of germs. However, looks can deceive you. You might fool yourself into believing that you work in the cleanest office in the world. You are wrong. Horrible smelling restrooms aren’t the only hotbeds for infection. Any area that is likely touched by a large number of people during the course of a day is fair game for nasty germs. Consider locations such as countertops, buttons, faucets, and doorknobs in shared areas. Then, consider all of those spots in your very own cubicle (or office if you’re lucky) that you touch all throughout the day (such as your mouse, keyboard, or smartphone!). Then consider how many clients or co workers you interact with in these locations. It only takes one handshake to spread a germ. So, make sure you wash your hands frequently.
- Act like a germ-phobe
Yes, that’s right. Take some cleaning solution (anything that disinfects surfaces), and wipe down all those areas we just mentioned above. You probably don’t want to do this immediately after sealing that huge contract with the hot new tech company, of course. Microbiologists recommend cleaning shared surfaces (such as the kitchen or break room) as often as three times a day. You can either advise the company management to enforce a policy to keep these areas germ-free, or you can roll up your sleeves to do some of the ‘dirty work’ yourself. Use disposable wipes rather than sponges and cloth rags. The latter provide an excellent breeding ground for more germs and bacteria. Remember to apply the same OCD like treatment to your own desk. Really focus on the keyboard, mouse, and work surface.
- Come prepared
You really need to bring the proper arsenal to your disposal. Make sure everyone knows that they should bring hand soap, sanitizer, and tissue supplies to work. Explain why these items are important.
How to Prevent the Stomach Flu: Mind your health manners
Of course, you can’t prevent the office flu by yourself. Your co workers and you need some common sense and cooperation to ensure the necessary measures are taken. Here are three basic but extremely simple rules to abide by during the flu season:
- Wash your hands
Sounds logical enough, doesn’t it? Your parent probably taught you this since you could barely walk on your own. It’s important to wash your hands before you eat, after you sneeze or cough, after using the toilet, and so on. Please indulge me while I once more stress the importance of this habit. Always uphold it. Remember to use soap, too. By itself, water won’t do much in terms of flu prevention.
- Sneeze and cough the right way
Did you know there’s a right way to cough and sneeze? You don’t have to be sassy about it. I’m trying to help you out. If you’ve been using your hand to cover your sneeze, you’ve been doing things horribly wrong and exposing others to your disgusting germs. The U.S. Center for Disease and Control Prevention advises sneezers always use tissues or handkerchiefs (does anyone even use these things nowadays?) If you don’t have any, it’s always a better idea to sneeze into your sleeve instead of your hand. Sneezing into your sleeve lowers the odds of spreading airborne germs. Don’t forget to wash your hands!
- You do you
A 2014 survey conducted by Staples in October shows that 3 out of 5 American employees choose to go to work even when they know they’re sick enough to take a day off. Many are likely pressured into this by tight work deadlines and major workloads. Think of it things this way: if you do choose to go to work with a runny nose, a bad cough and (worst of all) a high fever, you risk ruining the whole team’s productivity. What if a colleague gets sick because of you? What if someone in their family then catches the flu? Instead, you really must choose the selfless path and call out sick.