There’s a bug going around my house. My kids are coughing, my wife has some kind of flu & I’m avoiding them all like they have the plague. I work from home, so I don’t have to worry about sharing our germs with an entire office, but a sick day, what’s that? I can’t remember the last time I used a sick day. Even when I worked from the office, I would simply work from home if I was sick. Now that I work from home, I just put a box of Kleenex on my desk & power through. Is that the best thing to do though?
I’m sure employers love the fact that they aren’t losing employee productivity hours due to cold & flu season, but is that what’s best for employees? When our kids are sick my wife institutes mandatory rest & relaxation for them. Movie time, arts & crafts & naps combined with soup & cuddles. Rarely are they out of their usual routine for more than 48 hours. We all know we’re supposed to get extra rest when we’re sick, but we don’t do that. We keep working. For as much as “work/life balance” is coined in the workplace, no one talks about managing our health. Mandating rest time doesn’t seem like a feasible option though & the knowledge of having work like up may be counterproductive to the idea of relaxing.
There are people like my wife in the world we have to think of as well. Seemingly healthy, completely normal looking people who have an autoimmune disease. A 2 day bug for an otherwise healthy person is a week or more of their body fighting. The autoimmune disease person is still better off than the person who shares it with the family member who’s going through cancer treatment. Maybe we should start to think about these people walking amongst us instead of our work obligations.
I think the time has come to rethink sick days. I propose sick day banks. People like myself who work from home, those who can work from home & those people who miraculously only get sick once a decade deposit their sick days to the employer to hold in a general account. Any employee who needs them can use them with a doctors note & maybe a small gift or an extra day or two of vacation time for the depositor. Instead of complaining about sick people coming to work, we should be looking for ways to keep them home.
I have started sneezing. I haven’t avoided this virus. Please send Kleenex & chicken soup.