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Office etiquette for flu season

Monday - 1/20/2014, 6:12pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- Everyone should know that washing their hands regularly and getting enough sleep are keys to prevention during flu season. But staying well can be trickier in the close-quartered office.

Forbes magazine compiled an etiquette guide for keeping sick-free at work. Here are a few of those tips.

  • Avoid the office kitchen entirely, it can be rife with germs, says Forbes. If that's not an option, use disposable plates and utensils, or at the very least wash everything with hot, soapy water before use.

  • The same goes for your coffee cup. Wash it every day, even if you're the only one using it.

  • Stay away from your colleagues. You can catch something from several feet away. Try to avoid shaking hands. And, if coworkers are sick or there's a flu outbreak, limit unnecessary conversations.

  • Above all, if you do get sick, don't go to work. You may feel pressure to go in, but it's not worth the risk of infecting others. A quick recovery is the most important thing.

The etiquette of calling-in sick

  • Know your company's protocol and follow it. Make sure you contact the appropriate people, whether it's HR or your immediate supervisor.

  • Don't wait until the last minute to call. If you think that you might be too sick tomorrow, call today.

  • Send an email in addition to calling to make sure they get the message.

  • Tell your colleagues that you're sick as soon as possible, especially if you need to delegate tasks.

  • Focus on resting, recovering and relaxing. Allow your body to fight the germs so you can be back at work in no time.

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