Wellbeing

5 Ways To Avoid Catching The Office Flu

The leaves are beginning to change colour, the smell of autumn is in the air and it’s almost hoodie weather. Sounds pretty great, right? It totally would be, if the lady who sits across from you hadn’t just sneezed her germ-ridden boogers in your general direction.

Flu season is upon us, and nobody is safe.

There are however some completely practical steps you can take to avoid getting the office flu, or at least to minimise the number of casualties in your building. Here’s how to avoid catching the office flu.

#1 Wash your hands

You should be washing your hands on the reg anyway. But when you’re combating germs left right and centre, it pays to stock up on hand soap and sanitiser.

It’s science-backed too. A program called Operation Stop Cough was started at a military recruit training command centre in Illinois in the US.

As part of the program, recruits were told to wash their hands at least five times a day. Then, after two years, the hand-washing team reported 45% fewer cases of respiratory illness, compared with sickness rates among recruits during the year prior.

Leave a pump bottle of hand sanitiser on your desk for easy access, and to offer to your germy colleagues.

Or you could do one better, give your doctor a visit and get a flu vaccination. Some workplaces even offer them for free.

#2 Avoid unnecessary human contact

Is any human contact in the office necessary? Jury’s still out, but when the office bug is going around be sure to stay on high alert to stop the spread of germs.

But look, some human contact is kind of unavoidable, like shaking hands with a client or the occasional high-five.

Luckily you’ve got that hand sanitiser handy for such occasions. Don’t be afraid to use it.

#3 Go home if you’re feeling unwell and encourage others to do the same

The. Most. Important. Tip.

It’s called a sick day for a reason. If you’re feeling sick, don’t come into the office – period. It’s seriously not worth it.

Not only will you be underperforming, chances are you’re just going to make the people around you unwell too. Trust us, your boss would much prefer you take a day or two to rest up and feel better than to come in and infect the entire office.

It’s for your own good, and for the good of everyone around you. Just stay home. Please and thanks.

#4 Don’t be gross, cover your mouth

You know how in primary school you were taught to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze? Surely you remember. It was like the actual first thing your teacher taught you in kindergarten then reminded constantly you until graduation.

Contrary to the actions of some, the rule still applies.

There’s not really any excuse for straight up sneezing into an office space. Don’t be a grub and just cover your mouth. Also, feel free to call out anyone who doesn’t, we reckon. 

#5 Be prepared for the worst

Unfortunately the office flu doesn’t discriminate and can strike at any time. So it pays to be prepared.

If you’re stocked up with vitamins, cold and flu tabs and whatever else you may require should you fall ill, you can jump on tit early and kill the bug before it does much damage.

Waiting until your voice is gone, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to smell things and you’re seeing black spots to duck down to the chemist and pick up some Strepsils is never a good choice.

The office flu sucks. You forget how much it truly sucks until it strikes. Don’t wait ‘til then, follow this list instead of hoping for the best.


Bradley is a writer from regional NSW and he didn’t come here to make friends, he came to win. He tweets infrequently to his 43 followers @bradjohnston_.

Main image: Parks and Recreation / NBCUniversal