Nearly 80 percent of office workers polled come to work even when they know they are sick, an increase of 20 percent over last year, according to the Flu Season Survey from Staples. For those that stay home, more than two-thirds return to work when they are still contagious, putting coworkers' health and business productivity at risk.
In a typical year, the flu virus is responsible for approximately 70 million missed workdays and an estimated $10 billion in lost office productivity. Survey results also show that employees could do more to keep the workplace healthy: half of office workers don't clean their workspaces regularly and are unaware of the dirtiest surfaces in the office.
Survey data shows office workers continue to make avoidable mistakes that fuel the spread of germs:
• 51 percent of employees only clean their desks once a week or less, even though germs can live on surfaces for up to three days, especially on the keyboard – typically one of the dirtiest personal workspace items.
• 25 percent believe that door knobs/handles are the dirtiest places in the office, while only 6 percent recognize that the break room sink is actually the dirtiest, followed by the office microwave, which only 8 percent selected.
• 65 percent feel the number of days necessary to be out of the office with the flu is one to three days and often return to work contagious, as the flu virus may be contagious for one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
Survey findings also revealed that nearly half of workers cited their concern about completing work as the reason they don't stay home sick. More than a quarter of respondents come to work to avoid using a sick day, even though a majority of those surveyed indicated their average productivity level while sick was only around 50 percent.