The most wonderful time of the year is here and as always, it corresponds with cold and flu season. Along with the festive holiday decorations, chances are that you have noticed an increase in office tissue usage as the smell of cough drops fills the air. It’s no surprise that according to CareerBuilder, most sick days are taken in December and January. Lucky for us, knowing is half the battle. With the knowledge that the next couple of months are sure to bring illness into the workplace, the following tips can be used to keep your productivity high and your workload from overwhelming you this season.


Stock your desk: Entering cold and flu season, you will want to stockpile your desk with anything that will help ward off germs. Think of it as a cold and flu season preparedness kit. Tissues, hand sanitizer, vitamins, water bottles, disinfecting spray, cough drops and Tylenol are all great items to keep your work area germ free and your body healthy.

Get your flu shot: Take preventative measures against the flu this year by getting your flu shot. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get the vaccine annually, and before the flu starts to hit your community. If you haven’t already, swing by your doctor or even your local pharmacy to get yours today!

Beware of communal snacks: Watch your waistline and germs while enjoying the holiday goodies that will inevitably end up in the office. Consider how many people’s fingers have scooped Chex mix out of that bowl, and how many people have breathed on that plate of cookies sitting in the break room. All of a sudden those treats don’t sound so appealing, do they?
Stay current: The flu and other illnesses always seem to strike as the holidays are approaching and work is piling up. While you can’t plan on when you will catch a cold or the flu, you can plan on staying current on projects and responsibilities so that your workload doesn’t become overwhelming should you have to miss a day or two of work.

Have a backup plan: Since the flu doesn’t care when you have a project due or a report to complete, don’t assume that you will be spared simply because you are “too busy to get sick”. Form a backup plan by maintaining communication with a team member that you work closely with and make sure that they can help you out if you get sick (and vice versa). Don’t be one of the 60% of employees that CareerBuilder reported come to work sick because they don’t feel that the work will be completed otherwise.

Stay home: If you do get sick, stay home. Know your company’s sick leave policies and whether working remotely is an option. Not only will coming into work sick lower your productivity, but your coughing, sneezing, and groaning about not feeling well is sure to be a distraction to your coworkers. In addition to regaining your health faster by resting at home, you don’t want to be known as the person who infected the rest of the team.

Don’t call in sick, unless you are sick: And lastly, if you aren’t sick, please don’t fake an illness because you had too much eggnog at last night’s holiday party. CareerBuilder found that 35% of workers called into work sick last year despite feeling perfectly healthy. Your employer is already anticipating people calling out during cold and flu season, don’t add to their stress level by missing work unless you truly need to stay home.