Office Colds. Hands Down The Deadliest.

The common cold is probably the most destructive virus for an office. If someone is sick with the flu, they stay home. The fever, the chills, the aches and pains make the decision easy. Colds on the other hand are a bit devious. The symptoms sneak up on you. And it’s generally frowned upon to stay home with just a cold. It sounds wimpy, especially if you work with a bunch of overachievers. On the other hand, by going to work you wreak havoc with your colleagues especially in the all to common open floor environments. It’s a catch-22.

Every year I fool myself into thinking that I won’t get a cold. I’m healthy enough to repel any germs. Therefore, I’m not overly concerned about protecting myself from getting infected. If anything, I scoff at the lengths people will go to in order to exit the bathroom without having to touch a doorknob. Recently, I was politely chided when I put my hand on the escalator rail, “don’t you know that’s a germ haven”. While I reluctantly complied, I felt as though by being that cautious, I’m letting the germs win. I should be able to touch an escalator rail. Yes, I can be stubborn and a bit irrational. And yes, every year at this time I get a cold.

With cold season at our doorstep, I did some research and it turns out that hands seem to be the primary culprits in spreading germs. Virus germs can be active on a surface up to six hours and they can easily travel within a six-foot radius. There are a few precautions you can take especially at work to help mitigate your chance of catching a cold. Be cautious of office surfaces such as telephones, faucets, tabletops, pens, keyboards, doorknobs, and elevator buttons. And you may want to think twice before you dive into the candy dish that was recently visited by someone with a cold.

My goal here is not to make everyone paranoid but cautious. Recently, I was in an all-day workshop with two people in varying states of sickness. While I fought the notion of being too obsessed with their germs, I did find myself keeping a safe distance from the sniffing and sneezing.

To help combat the common cold, you should wash your hands before you eat, leave the bathroom and after you blow your nose. How do you know if you’ve washed your hands long enough, sing happy birthday (preferably in silence to yourself). Blow your nose into a tissue, your sleeve or your arm. Never into your hand as that is how you will spread it to others. Unless your hands have recently been washed, keep them away from your nose and eyes.

Drink plenty of fluids, eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest, and take a multi-vitamin. It’s also suggested that you eat garlic and drink a concoction of boiled ginger root, honey and lemon. I’m not sure the last two will engender much office camaraderie. If you choose those options, they may prefer you stay at home. If all fails and you succumb to a cold, the only thing you can do is wait it out.

Hopefully you found this handy.