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When Are You Too Sick to Work?

Work From Home or Take a Sick Day? Here's How to Decide

Modern technology makes it easier to transport our work to home, which can be a blessing when you wake up with a nasty cough but aren't sick enough to skip out on work. Here are a few tips to help you know when you should work from home or when you should take a sick day and rest.

Work from home if you have:

  • Nasal congestion, headaches, sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose: Nothing is worse than sharing a desk with someone who is persistently coughing, sniffing, sneezing, and blowing their nose. Not only is the sound annoying, but it's repulsive to think that each time you cough or sneeze, you are potentially spreading your germs all around the room. If your energy levels are OK, work from home until your nose blowing and coughing calms down. Since you are the most contagious the first two days, make a point to stay home during this period as a courtesy to your colleagues. Keep in mind that if your cold has zapped your energy levels down to zero, give yourself a day or two to rest.

Find out when you should take a sick day.

Take a sick day if you have:

  • Fever: Fever is the most obvious sign that your immune system is fighting a serious infection. In order to heal, your body definitely needs some devoted rest when dealing with a fever. Even if you have a serious meeting or appointment, no one wants to share your infection, so wait until the fever breaks before you go back to work.
  • Stomach ailments: Stomach flu is highly contagious and very unpleasant. Definitely stay home when you are in the throes of the illness, but remember that you are still contagious up to three days after you've recovered. Be sure to keep your hands washed and avoid sharing food or toothpaste with anyone.
  • Migraine headache: Light sensitivity, nausea, and a pounding headache make it pretty much impossible to get any work done, even from home. It's usually your body forcing you to rest, so take the sick day, pop some Excedrin, and go back to bed.
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