Startup Sickdays: Do They Exist?

// January 11, 2017
Library filer of a man sneezing. More than six out of 10 Britons are taking to their beds for a week or more each year suffering from a cold, research showed Thursday October 27, 2005. The survey by The Sleep Council found that 62% of working people became bed-ridden as they nursed their cold. See PA Story HEALTH Colds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: PA
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If you’re considering taking a job at a startup, here’s something you should know: You may have to change your definition of the word ‘sick.’

In elementary school, ‘sick’ was having a tummy ache. In high school, being ‘sick’ (unless you could kick-flip) meant a cold or a taco-bell run with your friends. In college, being ‘sick’ meant you went a little too hard on the sauce for a school-night, or you just didn’t feel like getting up for that 9am class… or yeah, maybe at some point you actually had a cold. …or chlamydia.


Today, if you’re working at a startup, unless you’re worried about spitting up blood, you’re probably not going home.
The worst part? You alone are the key decision maker in this scenario.

Unless you think you’re literally about to die, you’d better let go of sick days. Sure, you might get X amount of days off, or a handful of vacation days, but you should really be saving those for important occasions like seeing your family, your friends’ bachelor parties and your birthday bender (or the bi-monthly overload-driven freak-outs). Here’s why: At a high-growth startup, at least in the ones I’ve worked at and heard about, you probably have too much on your plate to spend a single conscious minute with your laptop closed. Last June, I had a 103° fever and a staph infection, and you bet your ass I was wrapped in a blanket, answering emails from the desk in my bedroom, loaded with meds so bad my eyes kept going crossed. But it’s even darker than that…

Sick days become insignificant because (let’s face it) you’re going to get sick, and others in your office are going to get sick, and all of you can’t all stay home at the same time, so chances are that as soon as those transitional seasons hit, your office will go through what the employees at my office call “Allergies.” This is where at least one quarter of the people in your office are disgustingly sick for a period of about one month. Usually occurring between late fall and early spring, this miserable set of weeks ensures that everyone has some strain of something, and no matter what you do, the multitude of attacking viruses will overpower even the strongest body (enough to run through all those vacation days put together). But there is a bright side to all this: Everyone in the office shares some life-sucking bug with one another until everyone’s immune system kicks into overdrive and you all come out more resilient and ready for the next allergy season… Or you don’t… And you get so sick you have to take multiple days off, at which point you better pray your interns can handle your workload.


Fortunately, as men of science, we at YoungBrofessionals have a few strategies to mitigate many of the negatives associated with “Allergies” and knock the bad days down to a minimum.

Rule 1: Know and accept that you WILL get sick. This is inevitable.
Rule 2: As soon as those leaves begin to change, or the snow begins to melt, start popping vitamin C twice a day. This is an early stage preventative measure, but not a cure-all. You’re prepping your body for disaster, telling every cell to fortify its defenses for what’s to come.
Rule 3: When you feel the sniffles coming on, cut the pussy stuff and crack into a bottle of Airborne. Your best chance is to shift into maximum overdrive, and abort this baby before child-support even becomes part of the equation.
Rule 4: When Dianne the office flirt gets sick, expect the worst. She’s been walking around the office spreading disease from desk to desk. Same thing with an office manager or the higher-ups. As the people who come into contact with many of the company’s employees daily, they’re the most susceptible targets, as well as the most-likely to aid in the spread of disease. You don’t need to wear a surgical mask when you head into that meeting, but don’t borrow any pens…
Rule 5: If the meds aren’t enough, HIT UP AN ACTUAL DOCTOR. Health Quest or some other walk-in Doc. can give you a quick script for something stronger if you need it. Make sure you go to work right after however. The brownie points you’ll score with your boss for getting shit done despite immense physical agony will come back ten-fold (like when holiday bonus time rolls around). Dayquil in the morning, Nyquil before bed, and this means hitting the sack as early as possible, so skip the netflix.
Rule 6: KNOW WHEN TO GIVE IN. Throughout this experience you’ll learn just how strong you actually are. You’ll learn your absolute limit, but if you’re worried about falling asleep on your commute, stop playing and stay home for a day or two.

Good luck out there everybody. Take your vitamins.

Have any other suggestions for fighting off killer colds? Tell us in the comments!

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