In the next several weeks, you're probably going to get sick. I know this not because I'm medically qualified to tell you so, or because I have a hot line to the Centers for Disease Control.
I know this because yesterday when I was out doing errands, I heard kids coughing. They were sneezing. They were whining. And they had runny noses and parents with really short fuses.
This tells me several things.
1. By this time next week, one or both of the parents will have the snotty nose, cough and crankiness.
2. In about two weeks, the germs will hit the workplace, and begin to spread despite the very visible hand sanitizer on the receptionist's desk and in the break room.
3. Blog posts and tweets will begin to pop up, as people lament they'd have to be dead for two days to feel any worse. They'll complain about body aches, sore throats and going through a box of Puffs every hour.
4. Co-workers will begin to complain they wish their sick colleagues would stay home. They wish sick bosses would stay off e-mail and just go to bed, dammit.
5. Steps 1-4 will continue until sometime around late March.
While this may be sort of a depressing scenario, just remember that the cold-and-flu season is nothing unusual. It arrives every year, just like a Will Ferrell movie. It's just something you have to learn how to survive.
That means if you're the boss, you get together with your staff and tell that that if they're sick, you want them to stay home. You want them to go to bed, and stay off e-mail and the phone. Working from home wasn't invented so workers could still labor while sick. Don't e-mail or call these workers and say: "I know you're sick, but there's just this one little thing...." No, no, no.
If you're a worker, start making contingency plans right now. Leave some kind of master list of phone numbers or contacts so those covering for you know what to do when you're lying nearly comatose under a pile of blankets at home. Put an auto responder message on your e-mail that says: "I'm sick. Call Bob if you need anything." And then give them Bob's number.
It's really not that difficult, but we seem to have made being sick a big deal in the workplace. We feel guilty if we're out sick. We suddenly cannot run a business and are headed for bankruptcy if we can't reach a certain worker because he or she has the flu.
Get real people. And then pass the Puffs, please...