Why So Many People Go to Work When They’re Sick

‘Tis the season to dodge germs at the office.

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Photo by skynesher/Getty Images

We’ve all been there, wincing with each hacking cough echoing from a sick coworker’s neighboring desk. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Why didn’t so-and-so stay home?” a recent Crowdtap survey conducted by Robitussin has some answers.



Of the more than 2,000 men and women surveyed, 30 percent admitted that they were unlikely to take a day off when they felt sick. Nearly half of those participants, 49 percent to be exact, said they couldn’t take a sick day because they had limited sick or vacation days, but a whopping 62 percent reported going to work with a cold in order to save their sick or vacation days for something fun.

RELATED: What Causes a Cold or the Flu?

Either way, when sick employees go to work, so do their germs, and 83 percent of the survey responders reported having caught a cold from someone at work. A single cough can contain as many as 200 million virus particles and can travel out of the lungs at a speed of up to 500 miles per hour. That means a cough is faster than both a bullet train (375 miles per hour) and a NASCAR racer (200 miles per hour). Yuck!

RELATED: Your Cold and Flu Symptoms, Explained

But once they are out in the world, germs can survive for several hours on paper and a few days on plastic or steel. Now your co-worker with the Clorox wipes doesn't seem so paranoid, does she?

Stay healthy this winter and read our tips for cold and flu prevention.