Cubicle Health – Avoiding Office Sickness

office cubicle health avoiding colds

I was never one to follow the rules. The name “Sebastian” actually comes from an old Greek word meaning: rebel, troublemaker, and rabblerouser. It is for this reason that every time summer rolls around, I decide to get sick. Yes, most people go the more traditional route of filling their office cubicles with misery and germs in the colder winter months, but not this guy. While all the winter-illness-afflicted people are indoors, missing out on the blizzards and bone-chilling temperatures, I decide to get sick and miss the beautiful, sunny, 72-degree days. It is with this in mind that I bring you this office life article on how to avoid getting sick at work, and how to proceed if you happen to be the one who is already sick.

In winter months, more people are sick than in summer months. This is due mostly to the fact that people are confined to being indoors for longer periods of time during these months. The cold temperatures can have an effect on your immune system, but with the proper use of winter clothing, this can be greatly mitigated. The more time you spend in the same closed air space as a sick person, the greater your chance of catching that sickness becomes. So if you just got to your cubicle with your morning coffee, and it sounds like your office neighbor may cough up a lung, take to the following tips:

Avoiding Getting Sick at the Office:

1. Clean and disinfect surfaces often. This means your desk or cubicle work surface, keyboard, phone, etc. These places are hotbeds for germs to collect and can often have higher bacteria counts than bathrooms.

2. Doorknobs – avoid them? Well, I suppose that’s not possible most of the time, but the same goes for the sickies too. Unless they’re extremely good mannered like myself, the average person isn’t going to try to avoid touching doorknobs while they’re sick. So you should definitely try to avoid touching them when you aren’t. Using your sleeve or a napkin or a foot to push a door open if possible is pretty keen.

3. Get the vaccine! When applicable of course. The flu is not fun, and (around here at least) only costs about $20 to get an influenza shot. If you are opposed to flu shots, the good news is you probably will get some time away from your office cubicle, as symptoms tend to be pretty debilitating.

4. Wash or sanitize your hands – pretty self-explanatory, but easily overlooked. If you’ve been walking around the office or other cubicles, you may have inadvertently touched some contaminated surfaces. A quick hand-sanitizing can sometimes prevent an otherwise troublesome illness.

5. Don’t touch your face if you can avoid it. We all have nervous tics, but this one could get you in trouble. Hopefully if you’ve been keeping up with the previous step, it won’t be as dangerous if you accidentally touch your face at some point. But eyes, mouth, and nose are a germ’s doorway into your soul, and you don’t want them anywhere near that thing.

6. Washing dishes and mugs – washing your kitchenware and ideally storing them away somewhere not in the open will lower the chances of being exposed to germs which may settle on them. Bacteria also tends to grow much more easily when it has a jumping point like some old caked-on food.

That’s all well and good, but what happens if you didn’t get to this article in time, or you did everything in your power but one of your fellow cubicle dwellers still managed to get you sick? Luckily, rebel Sebastian has a few tips for you as well. Some of these may be common sense, while others play into cubicle etiquette:

When you’re the one coughing in your cubicle:

1. Don’t. Come. To. Work. Seriously, it’s best for everyone. I know your vacation days are precious; I feel the same way. I want to protect them like a mother protects her baby birds, but some days you have to throw in the towel. Not only is it better for your health and recovery, but you are doing a favor to everyone in the office. Plus watching Price is Right in your pajamas ranks pretty high on my list of things to do with PTO days anyway.

2. If you must come in for whatever reason (life-altering projects, implacable deadlines, company is having a party and they hired a clown and you love clowns), then that’s fine. I will be silently judging you for putting my health at risk, but hopefully you are doing your part not to spread your ailment to every office cubicle in a hundred-foot radius. By “your part,” I mean covering your mouth when you sneeze, washing your hands often, avoiding co-worker interactions, avoid touching things in the kitchen, etc.

3. Whether at your office cubicle or at home, if you’re sick there’s really no substitute for getting the proper amount of rest and staying hydrated. I like throw some Vitamin C in the mix as well, even though I’m not convinced it does anything besides make my wallet lighter and my medicine cabinet heavier. Either way, I can tell you from my experience that when you get a day or two of ample rest, colds tend to go away much faster than when you attempt to maintain your party animal lifestyle.

From my cube to yours,