Cold and Flu at Work On the Rise -- How to Avoid Them
Wearing a surgical mask to work might be a little extreme, but you should know that some extra precautions are necessary now that cold and flu season is in full swing. Nearly 36 million people, or nearly 12 percent of the U.S. population, report they're experiencing cold and flu like symptoms even as you read this. Look around you -- more than one in ten of your co-workers are probably contagious.
That's up 9.3 percent from just last week, according to Boiron, the manufactures of flu medicine Oscillococcinum. Boiron tracks the latest levels of cough, cold and flu in 150 markets via SDI (Surveillance Data Inc.). They report that some of the most common symptoms of flu include fever and influenza-like symptoms such as chills, body aches and headache.
- So what can you do to avoid catching colds and flu from your co-workers? Here are some simple suggestions:
- Avoid eating treats from bowls full of unwrapped snacks (pretzels, jelly beans, nuts, etc.)
- Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your desk drawer, purse or pocket and use it liberally throughout the day.
- Don't directly touch used tissues, even if you're cleaning up around the garbage can. Pick them up and dispose of them with your fingers covered by another piece of paper, if you must touch them at all.
- Use sanitizing wipes to wipe down any equipment you share with someone else, such as keyboards, phones, staplers, etc., before you use them.
- If you use a ceramic coffee mug at work, wash it well both before and after you use it. You never know if someone else used it when you weren't around.
- Don't touch doorknobs or handles with your hands, if you can help it--push doors open with your elbow, of if you must use your hand, reach up and place your hand on a part of the doors that others probably don't touch.
- If you're worried about shaking hands with someone, rather than offending them, take the responsibility on yourself and say, "I'm sorry--I've just gotten over a cold and don't want to infect you."
- Avoid looking over someone's shoulder at a computer screen, or letting them look over yours. Have them sit beside you, with as much distance in between you as possible, or, better yet, send the project, document or link to their computer and discuss it over the phone.
Next: Top 10 Ways to Catch the Flu at Work
Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Her work has been translated into 20 different languages, and she is a frequent expert guest and commentator on news and talk shows. She has been featured in The Wall St. Journal, on the CBS Early Show, NBC Today, CNBC, Fox Business News, Dr. Phil, Oprah.com and many other media outlets. Lisa discusses her AOL pieces each week and interviews vital guests on the web TV show, This Week in Careers. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.