Treat Yo’ Self

Note: This isn’t necessarily a nonprofit-centric post, though after nearly two decades of experience, I see this issue more in our sector than others. Please also don’t accept any of this as medical advice; there were no health courses as part of my nonprofit management degree.

Friends, Romans, countrymen (and women and others)… lend me your ears. Stop. Coming. To work. Sick. Say it with me now. STOP COMING TO WORK SICK. I don’t know what it is about our field — maybe it’s a misinterpreted sense of purpose, or the feeling that appearing in the office showcases a stronger dedication to the mission. Whatever the reason, all y’all need to walk your sneezy, coughing, runny-nose selves back to your cars and go home.


We are in the throes of cold and flu season, and all it takes is one of you to bring your acute viral rhinopharyngitis to the office before all 20 of us are down for the count. I’ve worked places where a simple cold made the rounds for three months (one quarter-year!) because everyone felt they needed to send e-mails from their cubicle instead of the comfort of their own homes.

To be fair, this isn’t solely on the shoulders of employees. If you’re traipsing around the office with a box of tissues and a blanket, it’s up to the powers-that-be to assess and request you go home, if appropriate — lest anyone take advantage of what should be an honorable system. That said, there are helpful things to know, which I for one found eye-opening.

  • First, it’s not allergies. Susan, you have the full-on plague, and your nose has been leaking for days. Why are you in the office claiming it’s just tree pollen? Please Purell everything you’ve touched, and go lay down in your domicile.
  • Yes, you are still contagious. A simple Google search notes the common cold is contagious one day prior to symptoms, and up to seven days after. Keep this in mind when being near people, hugging people, shaking hands, sharing food, etc.
  • Give yourself some space. I can’t imagine why, though if for some reason it is absolutely necessary for you to be in the office around other human beings, studies have shown, “a person with the flu can infect others from as far as six feet away.” Share an open office with other people? Keep that in mind when Chad sneezes in the cubicle right next to you.
  • Zoe’s Chicken Soup. My own personal opinion here, but for some reason, Zoe’s chicken soup has some crazy non-medicinal healing powers, and it’s delicious… if you happen to live in one of the 17 states where they have stores.

None of this is rocket science, right? And if it is, I’m glad to have played a small part in your continuing education. Nonprofiteers, let this haiku help you in times of germophobic worry:

Feeling sick today?
Stay sneezing and coughing in
your own darn bedroom.

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