Wednesday May 31, 2023

Working from Home When Sick

BB and I both have the plague. At least, it feels like the plague. In reality, it’s just strep throat. But it’s a weird strep for both of us. Neither of us have a fever. He is, of course, on antibiotics. I am not. I am allergic to many antibiotics. Strep also runs its course in three to seven days. The last time I had strep, seven years ago, was much worse and landed me in the hospital….twice. And I was on antibiotics that time. I don’t feel anywhere near that bad. Anyway, I figured now is a prime time to talk about working from home when sick.

If you are a freelancer of any kind, you do not get paid sick leave, paid personal time off, paid vacation, or any sort of paid leave. So, depending on your deadlines, the clients you work with, and whether you’re knocking on death’s door, you must decide for yourself what you’ll do. I was they type of kid who hated to miss school. I didn’t even like school all that much…it was an escape from my home life. I did not like playing catch up with my school work.

As adults, we all know that even in businesses where our coworkers are “cross-trained” missing a day or a week because you’re out sick doesn’t mean that you come back to an empty “In” box. No. It’s overflowing because everyone was busy with their own shit.

Even if you hire a Virtual Assistant, you must come up with a plan about how you’ll handle sick days long before you ever come down sick. (Remember the 6 Ps: proper planning prevents piss poor performance.)

Related: No Such Thing as Sick Leave

Deciding Whether to Work

I have strep and I’m working. I’ll probably take a nap at some point because I have a killer headache. Being able to take a nap is a benefit of working from home. I don’t do it often and when I do, it’s an indicator I’m sick or getting sick. I worked last spring when I had the flu. I’d take flu medicine, work until I’d get sleepy, take a nap, and then repeat the cycle. It kept me sane.

No one can decide whether you should work other than you. I decide based on how I feel and my deadlines. I have a client with a hard deadline for a book coming up (from her traditional publisher). So, I’m going to finish up some research for her. That’s easily done from my desk under the influence of Benadryl or from my bed. I have some powers of attorney landing pages to finish editing. Again, I can do those here from my desk or from my bed. When I had the flu, I edited living will landing pages for the same client. My work keeps me sane. And, yes, I know I just said that.

Consider Your Finances

I know your health and well-being is worth more than whatever you’ll make today or while you are sick. And I happen to agree with you on that. And I also know that a visit to the doctor isn’t cheap and neither are prescriptions (and it doesn’t seem to matter if you have insurance or not). If you get most of your work from freelancing platforms or if your clients do not pay until after you complete a project, not working could mean that your finances take a considerable hit.

We are independent contractors. There is no paid time off. It can be difficult to make up lost time especially just coming back from being sick. That is another reason why I prefer to do what I can while I am sick. I might not be able to do as much as I normally could, but I won’t fall totally behind.

Let Your Clients Know

If you’re not going to work at all for a day or two or a week because you have the plague, use your out of office responder on your email and send out an individual email to each client (not one email with everyone on it) to let them know you’re sick with the flu or whatever and when they can expect to hear from you again. Dropping off the face of the earth is not cool and it will scare them even if they’ve worked with you before. And especially if you are actively working on a project with them.

Several of my clients know I have strep because they either read this blog or they follow me on Twitter. But they know I am working because I haven’t sent out an email stating otherwise. I still might take that nap, though… I say that and I haven’t been out of bed for an hour yet.

Robin Bull

You may not know me by name but you know my words. I've helped you connect with clients, educate audiences, and inspire loyalty. And I also LOVE helping people work at home, whether they are stay-at-home moms, retired professionals, or folks with disabilities.

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