Working While Sick

Nothing quite depletes a company like a viral germ spreading amongst its employees. When that happens, I see a curious phenomenon. There are two types of sick people:

  1. Those that still come into the office – either because they believe face-time is important or need to interact face-to-face with their coworkers often, like leading meetings.
  2. Those that stay home – either because they want to get better or they don’t want to infect others.

Personally, I would rather sick employees follow case #2. One person home sick means some loss of productivity, but it’s nothing compared to that person trying to follow case #1 and spreading the illness.

In high-tech companies, working remotely is becoming more & more effective. That strikes me as a healthy way to minimize the disadvantages of someone following case #2.

However, face-time can be an important political tool in certain environments. Those environments tend to be highly political and appearance-driven. You don’t see them in startups often, but they are usually a fact of life in large corporations.

If you work in such an environment, I hope you bring plenty of medicination to work. Common OTC cold medicines don’t cure the underlying illness, but they can at least minimize the symptoms.

Otherwise, stay home and get better. And make use of online communication and conferencing tools to stay productive, if you must.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.