You wake up with a stuffy nose and body aches. Going back to bed sounds appealing, but there’s a staff meeting today, you’re already behind on that big project, and you have 20 emails waiting for responses.
This is a tricky situation. You worry that taking time off will set you behind, but going to work when you shouldn’t can prolong your illness and jeopardize the health of others.
While it’s hard to predict at 6 a.m. what you’re going to feel like by noon, experts generally recommend making your decision based on severity and the likelihood that you’re contagious. Weakness, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, fever (especially higher than 100.3 F) and achiness are symptoms that need to be monitored and signal that a day of rest is in order. Consider taking a pain reliever for a regular headache, but see the doctor if pain is so intense that noise and light are bothersome. When you exhibit signs of something you think might be contagious (e.g., white patches on the tonsils symbolic of strep, the redness and gook of pinkeye, chills like your son had with the flu last week), play it safe and avoid others.
Honestly assess the situation. Do you feel well enough to get things done, or will you simply be going through the motions and prone to mistakes? Also look at the situation from the point of view of others. Is your coughing so persistent that it might disturb your staff? Do you appear so haggard that you make a bad impression on clients?
Remember that your actions set a tone for your team. Send the message that work is more important than health and that the ability to grin and bear it is prized, and you may find yourself with a rundown staff that is never up to peak performance.