On remote work and illness. And squirrels.

I am sitting here, in front of my desk in my home office, nursing the effects of an ongoing coronavirus party through my system that has knocked me flat for a while. It is quite remarkable how much it affected me - a triple-vaccinated and reasonably fit individual. I can only assume that without the little bit of help from medical science I could have been in serious bother. So please get vaccinated!

But I digress...

The downtime has given me some time to muse upon the nature of remote work and being ill first-hand. Here are my thoughts jotted down between periods of brain fog (necessarily short - my current concentration span is still roughly...OH LOOK, A SQUIRREL!)

If you don't feel well enough to go into a physical office, do not "go into work" remotely

The wonderful thing about remote work is that you cannot infect coworkers with your germs. You can cough and splutter all you want over your own keyboard and screens (ewwww!), but it is not going to send the entire team off sick. Also, it lowers the bar for actually starting work - down the hall, turn on the machine, and log in as opposed to a commute that could be anything from 10 minutes to 2 hours each way before you start. And being remote you can cover for your attention inexplicably drifting during that meeting where everyone has video and audio off, right?

The trouble is this can create enormous self-generated pressure to log in anyway, sick or not.

Resist the temptation to work while you are "not that sick". Rest up and recover. As someone once said to me, if you don't make time to recover from illness your body will do it for you, only on its own timetable. A few days' break now can save weeks of recovery later. If you are a full time employee, you should be paid anyway (in the UK at least), and if you are an independent contractor/consultant you should have planned for this kind of downtime.

By the way, one other thing. If you are the kind of office worker who does habitually struggle in to the physical office regardless when not feeling well, please just stop. For me (and others!), this breaks the No Asshole rule of the civilised workplace. Doubly so now, with covid so prevalent. Seriously, just don't. Presenteeism can now kill. Be kind, and err on the side of caution.

That's all for now, folks. I feel another squirrel approaching...