Just because winter is over doesn’t mean the season for colds and flu is done. As we move into Spring, you’re just as likely to run into co-workers who are sick than you were last month. Often colds and flu are mistaken for allergic reactions, but that’s a determination best done at home and not at the office. These tips will help you and others in your office to stay healthy.
Office Healthy Tip #1 – Keep Germs Away
Try to persuade colleagues to stay home when they’re ill, regardless of whether it’s flu, a common cold or even if they’re “certain” it’s just their allergies kicking in. You don’t need to come into close contact with someone to contract their virus, either.
Dr. William Schaffner, former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, says that if you could see the viruses in the air it would be a cloud extending about three feet around a sick person. People remain contagious and should stay home for up to 24 hours after the fever leaves them.
Office Healthy Tip #2 – Cover Up
If you have persistent martyr-types who won’t listen to reason and insist on coming to work even when they are ill, it’s perfectly acceptable to cover your own mouth and nose to avoid breathing in their infected droplets of breath. This is particularly important if you didn’t have a flu shot this past winter, because it’s still possible to contract the virus at this time of year.
Office Healthy Tip #3 – Wash Your Hands – Again!
Yes, we know this has been said over and over, but guess what—it’s a fact that unwashed hands spread more germs than any other method of contagion. Just because you’re sitting at your desk doesn’t mean your hands are clean. A germ study conducted by Kimberley-Clarke shows that the areas of an office most thickly-coated with germs were:
Sink faucet handles in the break room
Microwave oven and refrigerator door handles in the kitchen
Computer keyboards and mice
The best way to avoid contact with germs is to wash them away, at least every hour. It’s particularly important to do so before eating, after reading magazines or handling money, and following meetings where you’ve had to share audio-visual equipment controls or shake hands with lots of people.
Use soap and warm water and rub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. Where possible, dry your hands with clean paper towels and discard them afterwards. Try to avoid touching your face unless you have recently washed your hands, because germs are so easy to transmit between surfaces.
Office Healthy Tip #4 – Disinfect Workspaces
In addition to your hand-washing regimen, disinfect your workspace weekly, as well as items such as your phone, keyboard, mouse and other objects that are commonly shared. Keep tissues, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes handy for quick, emergency clean-ups and to send a message to your co-workers that you’re trying to stay healthy.
Office Healthy Tip #5 – Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
Your strongest ally in the quest to avoid Spring colds and respiratory infections is a powerful immune system. Strengthen yours by getting enough sleep, following a healthful eating plan and doing regular exercise. Add a multivitamin to the mix that gives a boost of the minerals and nutrients you might not get every day. Drink water to remain hydrated throughout the work day, because dehydration can lower your immune system’s reserves and leave you vulnerable to virus attacks.
There’s no reason not to be healthy this Spring, and by avoiding catching colds yourself you’ll be able to help out when others do. At the very least, you can work towards changing the culture of a company that believes sickness is no reason to stay home. And for that, many of your colleagues are likely to thank you in the future.
Follow these office healthy tips today to stay healthy while working in an office.