How should you handle work if you feel the effects of the coronavirus? We talked to seven people who got ill for advice on how to manage professional obligations after a Covid-19 diagnosis. Here’s what they suggest you do—and not do.
Use your sick days. “I wish I’d just taken sick days and done nothing but watch M*A*S*H,” says E.J. Kritz, the director for training for Ath Power Consulting in North Andover, Mass. “I attempted to never miss a meeting. My experience was that of a bad flu, and it was a week of in-and-out of bed for the most essential meetings. If I did it over again, I’d lay low and recover faster.”
Take it easy when you start feeling better. “I wasn’t able to work at all,” says Karolina Króliczek, founder of PR Insight in London. She suffered headaches, dizziness, and tiredness that escalated to shortness of breath and chest pain a week later, followed by a month of inactivity. “When I started improving, I took my laptop to the bed and watched Netflix.”
Don’t fight the fatigue. “I took a big risk working, because the virus can turn bad very suddenly,” says Dheren Singh, who secured investment for Supafin, his New York-based fintech startup, on videoconference calls while feverish with Covid-19. He also continued to handle legal, lease, and corporate structure matters while ill. “What was quite bad for me was extreme fatigue,” he says. “In retrospect, I would have liked to have rested more—just relax and take it easy.”
Bosses should be transparent. “At first I kept it a secret and called it a cold, because I didn’t really imagine I’d be sick for two months,” says Rany Burstein, chief executive officer and founder of roommate marketplace Diggz. He eventually came clean. “Seeing that the boss is also going through a rough time will make you more relatable, vs. being in some nice vacation home sitting by the pool. I also found that people are very curious about the experience.”
Find the positives. Someone can shine while covering your role. “You discover unexpected talents that you didn’t know about,” says Bilal Qizilbash, CEO of powdered kale maker EasyKale in Jackson, Miss., who spent a month in a hospital. “It also adds enjoyment to their work, because they get to try new stuff and wow you.”
Accept lower productivity. “I couldn’t think straight, almost like waking up with a hangover for two to three weeks straight,” says Burstein. “Also, it hurt staring at the computer screen, and I needed a lot of breaks.”
Cancel calls. “I asked to opt out of phone calls, as it was hard to talk with my sore throat,” says Jackson Bullman, a manager at social marketing company Modifly in San Marcos, Calif. His illness was quite mild, he says. Others say that symptoms such as coughing relegated them to email and chat.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Qizilbash worked from the hospital with his BlackBerry and laptop. “The team flagged the emails and information that they need most, so I could sift through my email easily while working at such a low capacity. I only responded to time-sensitive and critical messages. ”
Patience. Patience. Patience. “That’s the key word ,” says Zoriy Birenboym, CEO of eAutoLease.com in Brooklyn. “I was sick for three weeks from bed. We were shut down, confined to our homes, and it was very difficult putting anything together.”