Unfortunately, with the holiday season in full force, so is the cold and flu season. Colder temperatures and more time spent inside mean a greater likelihood of catching whatever is going around. Working in an office setting just exacerbates the issue since you are near people all day.
Looking to keep yourself and your office healthy this winter? Here are a few tips for avoiding the flu:
Flu shots. Getting a flu shot and encouraging your employees to do the same can greatly reduce the likelihood of illness in your workplace. These shots not only help prevent influenza and other viruses, but if you do get the flu, they lessen the symptoms. If you or your employees are fearful of needles, the antiviral is also available via nasal spray. Try to get someone onsite to administer the antiviral. If you cannot, provide employees with information about where they can get a free shot.
Avoid sick people. Rather obvious, but it's still worth mentioning—stay away from people who are already sick. Working from home is best, but if this isn’t an option, calling or emailing is better than conversing with someone who is already visibly ill. Adjust your schedule to avoid high traffic areas in the office, such as the kitchen during lunch time or the coffee pot in the morning. Encourage your employees to stay home if they are sick to reduce the spread of illness and to help the person recover faster. The flu is highly contagious and can go airborne, so staying away from people who are ill is a must if you don’t want to get sick yourself.
Good hygiene. Good workplace hygiene is imperative for keeping people healthy. Make tissues, disinfectant wipes or spray, and hand sanitizer available for employees. Disinfect your desk, keyboard, mouse, and phone, and encourage employees to do so as well. Also wipe down common surfaces, such as kitchen countertops, light switches, and printers, along with shared items like staplers or common-area pens. Wash hands before touching your face or eating, and encourage proper hand washing with posters in bathrooms. Remember that hand sanitizer only kills bacteria (not viruses), so opt to wash hands over using hand sanitizer whenever possible. Schedule more frequent and thorough office cleanings during the sicklier months as well.
Focus on wellness. Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep will help keep the flu away! Swap chips for fruit in vending machines and choose healthier food options when catering. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking will keep your body strong to fend off illness. Encourage your employees to be active as well by organizing office wellness activities—indoor and outdoor—and provide incentives for meeting health goals.
Catch something and not sure if it’s a cold or the flu? While a cold takes a while to develop, the flu comes on suddenly. Symptoms like chills, a fever, aches, fatigue, and chest discomfort are more associated with the flu while a stuffy nose, sore throat, and sneezing are more likely to be a common cold. But now that you are sick, it’s time to take care of yourself. Here are a few tips for fighting it off quickly:
Stay home and rest. If you are sick, stay home! Resting up will help you kick the flu quicker and you won’t infect other people. Stay home for 24 hours after a fever has broken and encourage employees to do the same.
If you didn’t already, get a flu shot. Getting an antiviral shot in the first 48 hours of illness can still do you some good! It will help lessen the symptoms of whatever you caught.
Disinfect. Clean your workspace and home during and after illness as to not reinfect yourself or others.
Drink a lot of water. Doing so will flush the toxins out of your body quicker.