Every office has its martyrs.
Struck by bronchitis or a head cold, they drag themselves into work, gulp a shot of Dayquil and insist all is well.
Employers should realize that medicated workers can cost the company more money by going to work sick than they would had they stayed home, says Ron Goetzel, director of Cornell University's Institute for Health and Productivity. Workers who clock in while ill cost their employers 20 percent more per day than employees who take time off. That includes not only the decline in an ill person's performance, but the cost of sick time for co-workers they will likely infect.
For workers who get paid by the hour, staying home with the sniffles is a pipedream. Yet many salaried workers also tough it out. A few tips for staying healthy when colleagues aren't:
Don't assume your office is germ-free even if your company hires a cleaning crew. According to Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, viruses can live for up to three days on phones, water cooler levers and elevator buttons, which should all be cleaned with a disinfectant once a week.
Keep your desk organized. "Nobody cleans their desk because it's a personal space," says Gerba. You should clean your desk once a week, especially if you eat there. Wipe all surfaces with a disinfectant.