I decided to use the hassle around the new virus to tackle the problem which exists at least since I got my first job - how to solve the conflict between business goals and health during flu season.
I have mixed feelings about the remote work. Also I finished economic uni, so I perfectly understand business needs. The content below takes into consideration both company and devs well being.
The topic might sound stupid and obvious. Yet I believe everyone at least once was in the situation, when got up sore from the bed and decided to go to work anyway. The excuses can be really creative: "I have an important meeting today"; "What if I'll need my sick leave days more in the future?"; "I didn't do my best last week, my boss will be angry". This list can go on forever.
This type of thinking is perfectly familiar to me. But I believe this is short sight approach. When you feel bad right after leaving your bed, your coworkers will probably tell you to go home after few hours of work. Maybe the better solution is to stay in bed. If you're well enough, take some vitamins and a blanket and try to work remotely. But it might be the case you are not able to do even that. In that situation, be honest with your team and the customer. Setting the huge pressure on yourself when you're really not able to deliver any results won't help your health. It won't help your project neither. Sometimes it's better to ask somebody to jump in instead of you, especially if you need to fix something quickly. Also, don't think about the all possible sick leave days you'll need in the future. In Poland it's usually 30 days per year. It's quite a lot. Face the truth - with this approach you'll likely to not use any till the end of the year.
The other very important thing is that health is everyone's responsibility. If you have a business meeting with the customer, will you help one having a good opinion about your company if you'll be sneezing all the time? If one'll get a flu few days later, you'll be the one to blame. The same goes for your workmates.
In the time of writing nothing pops in my mind when I try to find a good reason. But the life is surprising, isn't it? So if you have a reason good enough to be sick and in the office, take all possible precautions to lower the risk of spreading the disease or making your health condition even worse.
While my trip to Asia I had an opportunity to observe their culture. People in Europe are bombarded right now by the pictures of people in masks on the streets. In reality, people out there are not wearing masks to protect themselves (by the way, most viruses and bacteria are small enough to go through such masks, so it's not even able to protect you). They are wearing single-use masks if they feel bad. That way they lower a risk of making everyone else sick when they are sneezing or talking. Unfortunately I didn't observe this habit in Poland. So right now I want to encourage you: wear sanitary mask in public places every time you feel sick. You'll be grateful if your neighbors and work mates act the same.
Last, but definitely not the least - I beg you to wash your hands. And I don't mean this 0.000001s water splash on your hands which I can hear sometimes and terrifies me. Every time you leave the toilet, put something to the recycle bin, clean up, leave outside - wash your hands. This way you won't get sick while touching your face nor will leave all the bacteria on all possible objects around.
Ok, you just read how I encourage people to stay at home. But it's completely true, all of company members are responsible for the success and meeting business goals. So how to find some compromise between those two?
Take care of the remote work culture.
If you don't set any rules for the remote work and treat remote days at unwanted cases, it's very likely to make some mistakes and harm the business. Even if your company is working in the field where remote work is difficult, you'll have to prepare your business for such possibility. Working on your communication flow in general is helpful here. Encourage your coworkers to keep files organized and in known place. Always confirm important decisions by e-mail (this saved my life milion times). Think about whole project management flow and look if some improvements can be made. Make sure you don't have any "information holes" (Does it happen that some person was supposed to pass information further and it didn't happen? Was some important info lost?).
Risk of making sick more coworkers than already are is not worth it.
Being angry because your customer is making pressure on you and some team member is sick is pointless. Even if that person will try to work, probably won't be effective anyway. Also you're taking the risk of loosing temporarily more experts which just multiplies the problem.
Happy worker is efficient worker.
Being in a good relationships with your coworkers makes it much easier to manage the project and achieve success. If one person is grateful and happy, will do one's best to compensate all the inconvenience.
Know your team.
Of course, sometimes this happen, that some employee take sick leave often, just to dodge the responsibilities. If you observe one of your team members is absent more often than the others, it might be the sign some problem exists. Pushing that person to be in the office might make it even worse. Try to find the real problem and solve it together.
Customer is also a human :)
There are cases when large amount of money depends on the project success, some deadline, or there are any other circumstances making the worker absence a big problem. But usually we just imagine everyone being possibly angry with us. In reality your customer is also a human being, sometimes has the flu, will understand. Moving the deadline for 3 days will be probably easier forgotten than making your coworker unhappy and possibly making your customer sick (see above the one about the meetings).
In my opinion human well-being should be a number one of our priorities list. Personal condition affects all spheres of our lives, including business. It's not possible to force our bodies to the limit and expect to be successful. All the thoughts above are applicable also to the mental well being.
- Forcing yourself or others to work might bring more bad than good
- Check the possibility of remote work
- If you need to be in the office, wear sanitary mask and keep your hygiene top-notch