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The Common Cold: How to Avoid Infecting Co-Workers

Updated on June 23, 2011
No one likes a cold! So don't give it to your co-workers.
No one likes a cold! So don't give it to your co-workers. | Source

Common cold and its prevalence

One of the hardest diseases to avoid is the common cold. As a viral infectious disease that is easily spread from one person to another through personal contact and air borne germs, the cold is easily spread. Making the common cold more virulent, is the fact that it is, like its name suggests, awfully "common." An average adult gets the cold 2 to 4 times every year, and children get the cold 6 to 10 times a year. So if you are a professional adult, living in a densely populated city, and taking public transit to work, one of the most pressing responsibilities while you are sick, is the obligation that you do not make others sick along with you. And when you work with others, it's also your responsibility to ensure that you do not infect them.

It's also important to remember, when you are sick - take a sick day! Do not come into work and infect everyone else! But there are days when you are well enough to work, but still have some of the more infectious symptoms like sneezing or coughing. The best practices below will help you on those days.

Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze | Source

How to not infect your co-workers: 6 tips

1) Try to work from home: If your employer allows this, and you do not have too many face to face meetings set up for the day, try very hard to work from home. The minute you get into work, try as you might, you run the risk of infecting your colleagues, and decreasing your company's productivity. Even at home, try to follow all the following tips to avoid infecting those you live with.

2) If you come into work, isolate yourself: If you do have to come into work, try to work in an isolated area that does not get a lot of foot traffic. A conference room or a meeting room with closed doors that will isolate you from your colleagues would be best. (But please ensure that room is not going to be used that day.) If there is a window that lets in fresh air, please open it, so that the room you are using is not germ laden. Keep all your belongings with you.

3) Sneeze and cough into tissues: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough. If you don't have a tissue, use the crook of your shirt sleeve. DO NOT use your hands - you'll just touch something and immediately infect someone else.

4) Properly dispose of used tissues: Drop used tissues into waste baskets or other trash areas. Do not let them lie on common surfaces, as a co worker is certain to touch the same surface, and get infected.

5) Do not shake hands, hug or have any physical contact: Try as you might, your hand, shirt, facial skin and hair are all covered in air-borne germs. Avoid touching people while you have a cold.

6) Before leaving for the day, and wipe down all surfaces: Remember, the people who share your space are not only your co-workers but also the cleaning person and the trash collectors. Wipe down the surfaces you have used with disinfectants before you leave for the day.


The loss of productivity through sick days

All businesses, but especially small and medium sized family owned businesses, are very vulnerable to loss of productivity through employee sick days. The harder you can work at not infecting others, and therefore prompting further sick days for your firm, the more valuable and thoughtful you are as an employee. No one likes to be made sick though infection. And with these small steps, you can make sure that you are a considerate co-worker, and help your colleagues maintain their health.


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