Four Lessons From the Norovirus

For the past four days, I have been battling an invisible foe – the norovirus. Since absolutely no one wants to hear about the aliments and side effects of the stomach bug, I will spare you the grisly details. You’re welcome.

But I did actually learn some surprising things while I was battling the virus that I think could apply to everybody, whether you’re feeling healthy or not. Below, I share four lessons learned about my job from my sickbed.

  1. Working when sickIt’s ok to ask for help

Are you a control freak? Do you feel like you are letting your team down by not being in the office? Do you have a strong fear of asking for help? If you do, then you are just like me! Welcome to the club – and pass the anti-acids.

I had a big deliverable due this week – we are talking a project four weeks in the making. But apparently the norovirus didn’t get the message. I wanted to finish the project on my own. It was my responsibility after all.

But here’s the thing, it’s ok to ask for help. In fact, sometimes asking for help is the only solution.

This is the text I received from my boss, “You can just send me the project as is, or I can finish it or we can have you submit the remaining sections later. Your health is 200% more important.”

Sometimes in order to get a project accomplished you have to lean on your teammates. You are not less of an employee for asking for help. Asking for help means you care enough to know you need some assistance

  1. It’s pretty easy to stay connected

I have a strong case of FOMO – “fear of missing outs.” But you know what? With all the tech tools around today — Gchat, Slack, email, Google Plus hangouts – staying in touch really isn’t that hard.

From my bed of misery (yes, I am dramatic), I was able to easily stay appraised of office gossip, project updates and the latest in government news.

  1. Productivity is possible (work in short bursts)

If you have ever been afflicted with the stomach bug you know working eight hours straight is not possible. Plain and simple, you cannot make it.

But short bursts of productivity are possible. Hour phones call here, an hour working on a project there. I’m not going to lie to you and say I was as productive as I am when I am healthy. But sick days are by no means un-productive.

  1. Distance makes the heart grow fonder

As I mentioned earlier, I have a strong case of FOMO, but the reason my FOMO is so strong is I genuinely love my job. (Not just sucking up because my boss is read this.) I really do love coming to work everyday. Mostly because the people I work with are great.

There is nothing better than coming back from sick leave to have a whole bunch of co-workers welcome you back. I am not going to lie, it wasn’t like they were waiting with arms wide open – there were concerns I would spread that tricky norovirus — but sill.

All that being said, if I never have the norovirus again, I won’t complain. The bug is one tricky devil.

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Eva Fulton

Very cute and hope you are well soon! Don’t forget to add that if you are sick, stay home. Don’t bring it in and spread it to everyone else just because you have to be in control. You won’t be liked by your coworkers when they return to the office.

David B. Grinberg

Emily, I hope you are recovering and feeling better. You make some good points in your post. Unfortunately, some managers regard the work as more important than the worker — or they reject work flexibility, even when one is ill but willing to work at least part of the day from home. I once knew someone who felt so compelled to go into work when she was very sick, just to show up, get physically sick and sent home.
You are fortunate to have an awesome workplace and co-workers.