How to Avoid Getting Sick at Work When Everybody Else Already Is

When you really think about it (and even when you don’t), we spend a lot of our time at work. And this place where we spend most of our waking weekday hours is usually full of lots of other people, too, and other people means other germs, brought in from all over the place. There’s a reason nobody wants to sit next to sneezy Steve at lunch; illnesses can spread quickly between colleagues, especially in the open office floorplans that have been so popular in recent years. Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid taking your work germs home with you.

Wash your hands.

This one sounds obvious, but the reason you’ve heard it a million times before (and why it’s topping our list) is because it’s important.– plain and simple. It’s going to be hard to avoid touching things when you’re supposed to be working, so washing your hands frequently and paying attention to what you touch throughout the day (hello, very dirty communal coffee pot) can help keep germs at bay. Also, unless you literally just scrubbed your hands, try not to touch your face. Looking at you, nail-biters and eye-rubbers.

Keep it clean.

Your workstation, that is. Some germ transfers you just can’t control, so regularly wiping down the area that you spend the most time in will help stave off infections and germy proliferation. Try to keep your devices, food, and area to yourself to avoid cross-contamination.

Take a shot.

Or rather, get your shots. Flu vaccinations are easy to come by and definitely worth the hype, an opinion you’ll probably agree with after spending a miserable week in the bathroom with full body chills and a wild collection of aches and pains. Encourage your co-workers to get vaccinated too, so that even if one domino falls, everyone else in line has some backup protection.

Get some fresh air.

Although potentially more difficult to accomplish in the winter months, opening a window to allow for some outdoor ventilation can seriously improve the air quality moving through the room, and clean out some of those pesky airborne viruses. If you can’t bring yourself to endure a full day of external elements, be sure to take as many walks as you can to keep your lungs (and mental capacity) fresh and ready.

Kick out the sick kid.

Spy a co-worker looking a little worse for wear? Can’t help but overhear some frequent sneezing from a few cubicles over? Are you actually watching sweat drip from your feverish neighbor’s brow? Encourage them to take a sick day or two to recover, and spare the rest of the office similar fates. Of course, not all companies are super sick day-friendly, but surely the big boss doesn’t want one lame duck to take down the whole operation.