“If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to watch TV, so you can spend the day in bed.”
Needless to say, this common refrain from my parents meant that I was rarely absent from school.
Fast forward to this past June: I was fresh out of college and in my second week of working at ThinkingPhones. Eager to make a good impression to my new co-workers, I showed up for work despite being plagued by a nasty cough. ‘No big deal,’ I thought; I was convinced it was allergies.
But as the week went on, my cough grew progressively worse. When I called my mother, she encouraged me to visit a doctor. “They don’t give medals to people who show up and get the whole office sick,” she said. That weekend, I found out that I had bronchitis. And while I was able to recover quickly, I came to realize that she was right—people who show up to work sick make others sick.
In the past, staying home from work would force us to lose a day or more of productivity, as replicating workplace processes from the living room often proved futile. And while there are some days when you just need to stay in bed and sleep, most sick people are still physically able to do their work. Thankfully, the advent of unified communications—particularly solutions like videoconferencing—has made it possible to feel just like being at work, without spreading illness to colleagues. Here, seven stats that prove that germs are best kept at home.
1. A 2012 study states that employee sick days—as well as workers who aren't reaching their potential because they're ill—cost the U.S. national economy $227 billion per year. (Integrated Benefits Institute) (Tweet this)
2. In 2013, workers in the United Kingdom were absent for 131 million cumulative days—an average of 4.4 per employee. (UK Office of National Statistics) (Tweet this)
3. Of the aforementioned aggregate total, minor illnesses, such as the common cold, accounted for 27 million of those days. (UK Office of National Statistics) (Tweet this)
4. The Centers for Disease Control believes that $10.4 billion is lost annually for flu-related medical expenses. (CDC) (Tweet this)
5. 87 percent of employees not physically present for a meeting report feeling better engaged with their colleagues through videoconferencing. (Gigaom) (Tweet this)
6. Furthermore, 95 percent of employees believe that face-to-face interaction allows for more thorough collaboration. As such, employees don’t feel excluded just because they’re not physically present. (BlueJeans) (Tweet this)
7. Perhaps most tellingly: 90 percent of employees in the United States have, at one time or another, reported for work while contagiously ill. (Staples) (Tweet this)
Are most of the illnesses that cause workplace absences contracted at work? The jury is out. Regardless, enabling employees to recuperate in the comforts of their own home—while allowing their co-workers to work in a cleaner, safer environment—is undoubtedly an intangible benefit of unified communications.