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You’re probably walking around the office and hearing the coughs and sniffles common to┬áthis winter cold and flu season. During the cold winter months, when we’re all locked away behind closed windows and not getting enough fresh air, it is easy for viruses and bacteria to form and spread. An office can be an unpleasant petri dish once an illness is brought in. How can you prevent the illness from spreading and taking out your entire workforce?

4 Practical Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Stay Home if Contagious.

So many professionals believe that it is somehow better to go to work when sick than miss out on important projects, meetings, or deadlines. However, this is exactly how these infections spread throughout an office and end up costing a company even more time and money. If you have a fever, stay home. Go to the doctor. Determine if your illness is contagious and don’t return to work until you’re not.

Use Disinfectant Wipes and Sprays.

If your office spaces has been contaminated by someone’s germs before they knew they were ill or after they’ve left because they were sick, don’t be afraid to clean everything. Many disinfectant wipes and other cleaners are easily available and can be kept on hand for just this kind of situation. Wipe anything they’ve touched including door handles and telephones.

Wash Your Hands Often and Thoroughly.

Hand washing is still one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Hand sanitizer is good in a pinch but not as effective so every time you blow your nose, use the restroom, or touch someone else’s hand you should wash your hands with hot soapy water and dry them with a clean towel or disposable paper towel.

Don’t Shake Hands with Everyone.

Finally, it is perfectly okay during cold and flu season to politely decline the offer of a hand shake. If you have recently been sick let them know that you would rather not pass it on to them. Or you can simply laugh it off as your policy during cold and flu season. “I would normally shake your hand but there’s this nasty flu bug going around. It’s great to meet you.”