12 Tips To Prevent Cold And Flu In The Office Because Being Sick Sucks!

prevent cold and flu in the office

Being sick is the worst, especially if you get sick from a contagious coworker! Getting sick from a loved one at home is understandable, but when the culprit is a colleague you get angry and start planning ways to get your revenge. The workplace can be an easy place to pick up germs and viruses with so many people in close quarters and sloppy hygiene habits. But you can utilize many easy tips to prevent cold and flu in the office from spreading around.

I’ve had health and illness prevention on the brain a lot lately because I caught a virus from hell last month. I haven’t been that overrun and beaten down by microscopic scum like that in a long time. It was just awful. So I’m very determined not to get sick again for at least six months, hopefully a year or longer! And I hope you and your loved ones and colleagues can avoid getting sick too because being sick sucks! We too often take advantage of our health until we get blindsided by an illness.

Easy Ways To Prevent Cold And Flu In The Office

  • Antibacterial wipes & sanitizer galore- Keep these stocked in as many places as possible for employees to use at will. Break rooms, bathrooms, shared terminals, next to the printer, entryways, and conference rooms are all convenient locations. People don’t want to pay out of their own pocket for this type of stuff at work, so convince management to provide these type of supplies. They’re worth it!
  • Free vitamin C drops & Airborne – Quite often people don’t take Vitamin C when they start to feel cold and flu symptoms coming on because they’re lazy, forgetful, don’t have time to run to the drugstore, or simply don’t want to spend the money. Providing free Airborne or similar supplements at the office is a nice perk that helps you, the employees, and your business’s productivity.
  • Stick to a fair sick leave policy – Get a clear sick leave policy in place and stick to it. Make sure you’re in compliance with any state and local requirements as well. For example, San Francisco has a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance with it’s own quirks that employers have to abide by. Ultimately you want people to be able to take time off to recover without feeling guilty, stressed, or worrying if they’re going to get paid or not.
  • Send ‘em home fast – For all you managers out there, keep a close eye on your teams especially during the height of cold and flu season. If you notice certain individuals displaying symptoms, take the initiative and send them home to rest. Some people are stubborn or hesitant to speak up about going home and will try to work through sickness when they’re actually at their most contagious. The last thing you want is for the rest of your team to all get sick at once.
  • Keep updated procedures and backups – When it comes to business operations, one crucial aspect that often gets forgotten about are up to date, clear, written procedures. Things change all the time, but people forget to document these changes or make them accessible to others. Assigning backups and regularly updating procedures make it so much easier for everyone if someone needs to take time off due to a cold or flu.
  • Keep trashcans next to the bathroom door – Make it easy for people to avoid touching the handles on bathroom doors by keeping trash bins next to the door. They do this on cruise ships to help prevent cold and flu spreading like wild fire. I never touch a door knob with my bare hands if I don’t have to!
  • Email and post hygiene tips – A friendly reminder broadcast on personal hygiene tips to prevent cold and flu in the office is helpful for employees as well. 1) Wash hands vigorously with soap and water 2) Avoid close contact with others 3) Don’t touch your face esp. mouth, nose, eyes 4) Use a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze or cough 5) Stay at home if you’re sick 6) Disinfect work stations and common areas.
  • Make it easy to get flu shots – Some businesses schedule on site flu shots which makes it easy and convenient for employees. If you don’t have the resources to do that, you can email out a list of nearby locations that have flu shot services available. Also, many health insurance plans cover 100% of flu shot expense since they are preventative care – highlight your providers benefits as your employees may not realize they could get a flu shot for free.
  • Wipe down your cell phones – A lot of dirt, grime, germs and even viruses can land on your cellphone from your hands or surfaces it comes in contact with. Regularly wash your case with warm soapy water and wipe your phone down with disinfectant towelettes that are smartphone safe.
  • Disinfect microwaves, doorknobs, light switches, refrigerators, etc. – If anyone in the office can touch it, it should be disinfected often to prevent cold and flu in the office spreading around. And the more employees you have, the more often you’ll want to wipe or spray things down. You’ll also help keep the office and break room areas looking sparkly clean.
  • Toss kitchen sponges – I refuse to use the community sponge at work because I don’t know where it’s been, how many people have had their hands on it, or how old it is. Gross. It scares me. Paper towels are a good alternative, microwaving damp sponges to kill germs, or replacing sponges often can help prevent cold and flu in the office.
  • Provide free tissues – Another affordable tip is to provide employees with free tissues. It may sound silly, but they really come in handy, pun intended :) , and can prevent the spread of germs. Similar to vitamin C, most people probably won’t remember to stock up or be willing to spend time and  money to supply their own tissues. I keep a boxes on my desk and all over my house.

Untemplaters, how proactive is your company at preventing cold and flu in the office? Do your coworkers often come into work sick? When was the last time you got sick from someone at work? What’s the most number of sick days you’ve taken in a year? 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

eemusings January 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

My last company (a big one) provided free tissues which was a GODSEND for someone like me with tons of allergies – I can go through a box in a week in a normal week and much faster sometimes. They also offered free flu shots which was appreciated.

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Sydney January 16, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I have allergies too and was so happy when my work started providing free tissue boxes. Free flu shots are nice!

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Moneycone January 18, 2014 at 4:13 am

Flu shots. But then there are nut jobs who think vaccines cause X (fill in your worst ailment)!

Good list of precautions!

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Sydney January 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Yes you’re right that there are people who think vaccines cause xyz and think they’re the devil or whatever. I can understand that somewhat for infants since they’re so little and they have to get tons of shots, but a regular annual flu shot for adults doesn’t have anything exotic in it.

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Bryce @ Save and Conquer January 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

I got my flu shot late last year, but I am now fighting a cold that I likely got from our 12-year-old son. He had a bad cold a week ago, with lots of coughing and nose blowing. He’s feeling better now, but I have a sore throat and a runny nose. It pretty much goes with being a parent.

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Sydney January 20, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Oh that sucks, sorry about that. Being sick is so draining. I hope you feel better in a jiffy!

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Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin January 19, 2014 at 6:36 pm

My wife thinks i’m crazy but she is a complete germophobe! So whenever we go some place and there’s an elevator I make sure to rub my hand all over the panel, cough in my hand, then attempt to touch her. Sounds silly but its our little inside joke. She would love this post!

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Sydney January 20, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Ha that’s funny. I’m a bit of a germaphobe myself, but it unfortunately doesn’t make me completely cold and flu proof. I do avoid touching handles and buttons if I can. :)

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Poor Student January 22, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I went through the whole year last year without getting sick even once. I didn’t even have a cold. I hate being sick, so I try to always wash my hands and eat healthy food.

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Sydney January 27, 2014 at 12:02 am

That’s really lucky! I had a few 24 hour bugs in the first half of the year and then I just got knocked out at the tail end. I got my flu shot now, so I hope to stay healthy for a while now. I’m going to get my next flu shot before winter starts up again this coming Oct/early November.

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