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How to stay productive and not infect the office when you're sick

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Each year, American workers miss 100 million workdays due to the flu alone. There’s a trace of irony in that number: Many of those days wouldn’t have to be lost if those who were sick stayed home, preventing the transfer of germs and viruses within the office.

For many Americans, staying home from work when sick isn’t always an easy decision. A recent survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that one in three U.S. employees doesn’t have paid sick leave. By simply planning ahead, it may be possible to help prevent the spread of the flu and other illnesses with initiatives that encourage sick staff to avoid working in the office.

Attempting to work when seriously ill isn’t the best idea. But there are times when an employee might feel well enough to work, but is still contagious and battling symptoms. Developing a plan to work from home during such times can help an employee recover without taking time off while preventing the spread of germs among co-workers.

Plantronics, a company devoted to providing devices and tools to allow for flexible working, offers five tips to help those working from home stay productive:

* Diminish distractions: Soundproofing a home office isn’t the easiest or most cost-effective option for most. Instead use noise-cancelling headphones for important calls. The BlackWire 700 series headset from Plantronics offers noise-cancellation while taking a call on your PC, tablet or smartphone or while listening to music.

* Smart headsets: People working from home are likely using both a mobile phone and a computer for calls. A headset like the Voyager Legend UC from Plantronics integrates both calling systems into one while providing superior audio quality and hands-free features.

* Use videoconferencing: Working from home doesn’t mean the end of face-to-face meetings. Web and video conferencing programs like Skype, Google+ Hangout, Microsoft Lync or PGi’s iMeet allow for easy video conferencing for those working remotely.

* Instant messaging: When email is too formal a means of communication between colleagues, IM acts as a less formal way of staying connected. Chat clients like Gchat, AIM, Skype or Microsoft Lync are ideal for quick conversations.

* Collaborative desktop: Programs like Skype or Screenleap make sharing documents while speaking to co-workers easy while working remotely.

In addition to setting up a work-from-home arrangement, employees can also do their part by getting a flu shot and following doctors’ orders for rest and treatment when ill. To learn more about how you can increase your productivity through flexible working solutions, visit the Plantronics Blog.

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