Monday, February 25, 2008

Sick? Work From Home

I finally caught it.

I felt like I was in a horror movie being chased by the killer the past few months as I'd seen colleagues, family and friends go down with the winter bug. I'd done everything to avoid it from quarantining myself from the sick, to loading up on Orange Juice and Airborne, to washing my hands with Purell.

But I got sick anyways. And when it hit it wasn't a mild cold or a virus, but a nasty infection.

Many have to make the choice in this situation whether to go to work or stay home. Many, according to a CBS News report from 2005 (click here), choose to go into work--something called presenteeism:

Although it's done out of job dedication in many cases, it really doesn't help to have an employee in the office who is spreading an infection to others, in addition to not being able to work as well due to their own illness.
Some experts say presenteeism can actually result in a greater loss of productivity than absenteeism.

I chose absenteeism, or staying home from work. But instead of making it a sick day off. I've parlayed my days off into opportunities to telecommute. We've talked a lot in this blog about telecommuting, but this seems to be one of the cases where it truly does seem to work.

Although the source (Telecommute Connecticut) may be a little biased in this article (click here), this passage from Jen Jorgenson, a spokesperson for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) is important to note:

Companies may want to encourage telecommuting rather than have employees come in to the office and use their computers to get work done and infect everyone else around them, Jorgenson said employees who telecommute when sick can continue to be productive without making others sick.

If you're having a hard time figuring out if you're too sick to go to work, this Medicenet article that was a feature on WebMD, can help you figure it out: click here

The New York Times (click here), Baltimore Sun (click here), and Asbury Park Press (click here) all give the same message: if you're sick, stay home!

Human Resources can have a role in this by encouraging employees to work from home when sick instead of stressing on them coming in and fighting through it while spreading the germs and giving them access to things like laptop computers and VPN access so that they can access all their files from home.

And this issue is not just a United States one...sick days cost British businesses £ 34 billion according to this article by the Daily Mail: click here

Thirty nine per cent of workers say they are completely bored when they have to take time off sick, and wish they were back at work.

Wouldn't it be better to take those bored workers and give them something to do when they are home?

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