In my humble opinion there’s nothing worse than being ill. Other than feeling rubbish it’s a total imposition on your life – suddenly you can’t think straight; you have no energy; and spend you most of your time either asleep or wishing you were asleep. I am not a good ill person – I mostly think I’m dying (even if it’s just a cold) and feel incredibly sorry for myself! A little like man flu, but worse… This is how I feel at the moment. This is my second (count ‘em!) cold in a month and I’m sooo fed up!
But I’m not here to moan (well ok, maybe I’m here to moan a little!) – I’m here to debate the issue every poorly person faces: Should I go into work when I’m sick? Absenteeism versus presenteeism, if you will. It’s always such a difficult call! UK employees take nearly 7 days off sick a year, on average, but obviously that incorporates everyone from those signed off on long term sickness absence to those who never take a day off.
No-one wants to be the one in the office who’s “sick again” though! We’ve all been there – we want to go in so we can get our work done; so our colleagues won’t think we’re skiving; so we can get paid (well, if you’re self-employed or only get SSP). But let’s be realistic – when your colleagues come in sick, you hate it right? And there are several good reasons for this:
- They’re potentially contagious and are oozing germs!
- They’re in a bad mood and don’t want to talk to anyone.
- They’re too tired and ill to concentrate on anything properly.
- You know they’ll end up being ill for ages because they’re not getting any rest.
But it’s easier said than done – circumstances don’t always make it easy for you to stay home and recuperate, and business owners (especially of SMEs) can be as guilty as anyone when it comes to this, even though they know it can potentially cost them more money and that they risk infecting their staff. Particularly in small businesses, every employee is key and nine times out of ten there is no-one else to cover the workload. No, the world won’t come to an end if you don’t go in, but when you’re already feeling awful (and, if you’re me, a bit over-emotional too) then the prospect of returning to an even greater workload is totally overwhelming.
So you have three options really:
- You go in and martyr on
- You stay home and get well
- You work from home
Working from home can be an excellent compromise. With the advent of broadband, remote logins, company mobiles and so on, working from home has never been easier. You can keep on top of your emails, delegate tasks to colleagues AND get some rest at the same time. All whilst keeping your germs to yourself!
Maybe you shouldn’t listen to me though because it turns out I’m a total hypocrite. I hate when other people come into work sick, but here I am coughing my guts up and with a nose red from too much blowing, and you know what? I’m going in to work tomorrow…