Coronavirus is the latest outbreak to be causing panic in workplaces around the country and all across the world. Despite the nerves you may (or may not!) have surrounding coronavirus, however, it's important to do your best to remain professional when you're at work.
Yes, you can stay calm, cool and collected in the office while still making your health your No. 1 priority! Here are five ways to keep on top of your health at work — without sacrificing your professionalism.
1. Stay home if you're sick.
If you're not feeling well, you owe it to yourself and others to take the day off and rest. You might end up needing to take a few days off to recuperate. Of course, it's not always easy to take the day off of work at a moment's notice, so you might choose to work remotely from home if you can, instead.
The point is to do your best to keep on top of your own health and minimize the risk of infecting others in the office. After all, a true professional understands that you need to be healthy (and have a healthy team!) in order to perform at your best and be productive.
2. Keep your workspace tidy and disinfected.
Make sure that you're keeping on top of your workspace. Not only will tidying up and disinfecting your desk and work appliances help to protect you from germs, but a wealth of research also shows that a clean and clear workspace leads to a clean and clear mind. Specifically, studies have found that keeping a clean working space can actually reduce stress and increase productivity.
In fact, some companies have even created clean-your-desk policies in order to keep their offices looking put together (and professional!) and to keep their employees from drowning in avoidable messes.
3. Lend a helping hand to colleagues in need.
Remember that we're all in this together right now. If your coworker is feeling sick and needs coverage, offer to help if you can. If your colleague is going to be out of the office for a few days while they're sick with coronavirus or another illness that weakens their immune system, lend a helping hand if you can.
Besides the fact that you'd want someone to help you if you fall ill, you're helping yourself stay healthy by helping others in your office get healthy. And what's more professional than this kind of camaraderie?
4. Keep lines of communication open.
All teams function better and achieve more together when they communicate well. So if someone isn't feeling well and wants to share their concerns with you without judgement, allow for that.
If someone is worried about getting sick from others in the office or fears that the company isn't responding to coronavirus responsibly, welcome their ideas for how the company can be doing a better job. Open up the conversation.
If there are reports of racism or xenophobia in the office — or any discrimination rooted in the panic surrounding coronavirus — make sure that your door is open so that people feel comfortable bringing these issues to light.
5. Don't badmouth your company's response (or lack thereof).
If you're concerned that your company isn't taking the necessary precautions to fend off coronavirus in your office, don't go around badmouthing your company. Instead, schedule some time to sit down with your human resources department to discuss your concerns and share any ideas you may have for combatting Coronavirus in your workplace.
Complaining isn't going to solve anything — it's only going to make you seem unprofessional. Opening up a constructive conversation about coronavirus, however, can help keep you and your colleagues safe. And it exercises your leadership and problem-solving skills in that you're taking charge of a complicated situation.
6. Set up alerts on your phone to stay better connected while you and/or your colleagues are working remotely.
The chances that you or at least a few of your colleagues will be working remotely during this coronavirus outbreak are high. This means that you may need to communicate virtually in order to keep each other abreast of happenings with work. Make sure that you switch on alerts for any urgent emails, as well as for Slack or Asana messages — or messages on other platforms that your company may use. While you can just ping each other at the office or walk up to one another's desks, you're don't have that luxury when you're not in the same office. Alerts will help you to keep an eye on communication.
7. Treat virtual meetings like you would any meeting.
Because you or your colleagues may be working remotely during this time, you're going to have to have some virtual video calls for meetings. While you might be tempted to jump in on a video call in your super casual clothes because you're in the comfort of your own home, remember that this is still a professional meeting, and you should dress as you would in the office. Likewise, make sure that you're in a quiet, distraction-free place to take the video call, just like you'd want a quiet, distraction-free room to hold a meeting in person. Treat virtual meetings no differently than you'd treat any meeting.
8. Make a prioritized to-do list to better manage your workload and your health.
It's going to be tough to manage all of your work while worrying about your health right now, and that's understandable because we're all in the same boat. While it's your job to do your best, your health takes priority; without good health, you're not getting any work done. That's why it's a good time to make a prioritized to-do list. You can download apps like TeuxDeux, for example, to create a daily to-do list with tasks that absolutely have to get done (and you can place them in the order in which they need to get done). Don't be so hard on yourself if you don't finish everything you have to do, but be sure to prioritize so that you don't fall behind on work that really needs to be completed ASAP. If you have a plan in place to tackle your workload during this time, you'll have an easier time sticking to it.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.