How to Work from Home When You’re Sick

Posted: January 16, 2018  

Flu season is here with a vengeance and it can be tough on the workplace, creating resentment among co-workers, testing flexibility policies and putting the boss in awkward situations. Whether motivated by fear of losing their jobs, a desire to look responsible, a need for income or reluctance to give up vacation days, employees inevitably come to work sick. Some even put up a fight when colleagues or a boss suggests they go home.

When you work in a close environment, if someone is not telling you to go home, they’re thinking it, after all, we’re all just trying to stay well.  Maybe the easiest way to skirt around the whole dilemma is just to work from home.

Dayton Uttinger, in an online article for forever twenty somethings, shared exactly what to do:

1. Assess if You SHOULD

While you might have to work from home because of an upcoming deadline or a lack of available sick days, you might also be choosing to work from home because of an overachieving attitude.  It’s good to want to get ahead and be productive, but even you need to take a break occasionally.  Not taking enough personal time can compound work related stress resulting in lost productivity and worsening health.   

If you’re running for the bathroom every five minutes or sweating buckets, then maybe you’re overdue for a day of cartoons and misery.  Pushing yourself to work when you’re seriously sick is the perfect way to prolong your suffering.  Your body needs to rest and recover. Plus, if your brain is too fuzzy to think, you won’t be doing the best job anyway.

2.  Pick a Spot

Alright, so you’re committed to making this day even worse.  Pick a comfortable spot that you can work in, but will also be well secluded from others.  As tempting as it might be, your bed is probably a bad option.   Of course, then, the obvious solution is work in a home office.  If it’s comfy enough, and it has all the necessary supplies, then this is the ideal situation.  On the other hand, office chairs aren’t exactly known for their comfort.  Hopefully, yours is an exception.  

Once you’ve got a spot, stock the area with plenty of comfy blankets and pillows, medications, tissues, and whatever else you can think of.  Put some soup in a thermos nearby.   This spot is going to be your world for the next several hours, so you might as well make it yours.

3. Be Efficient

It can be easy to give yourself a break.  After all, you’re sick!  But the truth of the matter is that you’ve decided to work.  You’re either committed or you’re too sick to work.  So, given that, do whatever you need to do to get in the zone (probably turn Netflix off, to start).  Next, take whatever medicine you need to get you through the day and still allow you to focus while working.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take any breaks.  Set a goal for yourself, to finish one report or to reply to ten client emails.  It’ll be easier to focus if you have a goal in mind, and it will give you a clear guideline for when to take a break.  Schedule at least one longer break to take a nap.  

Working from home can be a nice change of pace, but it’s unlikely that you’ll feel refreshed at the end of this work day.  You’re still sick, but at least you won’t have a mountain of work waiting for you once you’re better!

 Personally, I find that occasionally working from home, whether sick or not, to be as productive if not more so than being in the office and handling the occasional distractions.  

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