Calling Time On Flu

We’ve had the Norovirus and we’'ve battled through the snow, now if we can survive the floods there’s only the flu to overcome and we can look forward to the spring. So far this winter flu cases have been comparatively light but with the return to warm and wet conditions this may change.

The standard advice for avoiding spreading flu viruses in any social or work situation is to cover your mouth with your hand when coughing, use a tissue when sneezing and wash hands regularly. Sanitising office equipment and surfaces including telephones is also important as regular cleaning can help to prevent the spread of germs around the workplace.

In fact studies carried out by the University of Arizona show that if one infected person touches an office door handle 40% of those in the office will have picked up the virus within four hours. With Arizona University Professor Chuck Gerba telling ABC News that mobile phones can be ten times dirtier than a toilet seat, the best advice within an office is to takes steps to avoid sharing phones and consoles. But before you get the bleach out, take care to use products which have been designed to sanitise office equipment or you may run the risk of permanently damaging screens and electronics.

When flu does hit the UK Health Protection Agency’s advice is for those infected to stay at home until they are well. This will help to avoid spreading the flu to fellow workers as well as aiding recovery. But whilst many of us can justify taking a couple of days off with flu, stretching this to the period when we are “coming down with something” or are in the recovery phase can sometimes seem too much. 

Luckily modern technology can come to the rescue. The internet and broadband means that many of us can access work files from home. Using modern phone technology also means that we can manage our phone calls with as much ease. Telephone diverts can switch calls to another work colleague or to our own home phone as required. Programmable call handling means that calls could ring in the first instance on a home phone and then after a set number of rings be diverted to an answerphone or another colleague. Messages can be updated by voice or electronically letting callers know when you anticipate being able to contact them.

Whether we want to be able to answer calls when in the throes of flu is one thing. But should the flu bug strike it is part of the employer’s duty of care to protect other employees and diverting calls to work from home is one way of reducing the chances of flu spread. 

Written by Lawrence Gow