On Illness

I love my nieces and truly enjoy spending the holidays with them, but this year, I returned home with a very bad cold. And, as I usually do, I forced myself to go to work with it (although I did work from home for a few days, since there was no way to get that much Kleenex at work 🙂 ). This is a bad habit of mine. I have gone to work with walking pneumonia, viral meningitis, swine flu, and countless colds with less ominous names. Why? It’s what I was taught.

At my first post-college job (as a chronic migraine sufferer–thankfully I’m not any more!), my first review went something like this:

“You’re completely amazing. We would need six people to do all the work you do. However, you take all of your sick time, so we’re rating you a 4 out of 10.”

And my bad habit was born!

That said, many geeks–especially IT geeks–do the same thing. They’re aware that the company needs them to come in and fix things, so they drag themselves to work and infect everyone else. The problem is exacerbated by the rigid way that many companies count sick time; many geeks have to save their time for sick kids, etc.

Counting sick time rigidly and creating a culture of coming in despite illness backfires. Sick people infect other people, who perform poorly or take time off. This costs companies much more money than simply letting people stay home when they’re sick!

As such, I was quite impressed by HubSpot’s recent time off policy change. They stopped counting time. They said that they were fully cognizant that everyone put in more than 40 hours/week, and we were professional enough to handle balancing getting our jobs done with taking time off. What does this mean for me? I’ll probably be more likely to stay home when I’m sick. Sure, I’ll work from home (since I’m a type-a workaholic), but my coworkers have much less to fear!

One thought on “On Illness

  1. My current company has a policy of three weeks total vacation and sick time for the year, which they inform me repeatedly is much better than I could get anywhere else. Which means that being altruistic and staying home takes away from my ability to do things like go on family vacations. Which makes it really hard to make that call.That said, I get really grumpy when my very sick coworkers come and hang out at my desk. And it's hard to tell them that really, they should go home, when some of them are not allowed to take any more time.

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