Why you shouldn’t work when you are ill – Don’t “play hurt”

Are you the kind of person who works when you are ill?

Do you like to show how dedicated you are by working when you are ill and “playing hurt”?

I just returned from working in Sydney where so many people were sick.

TB Sydney

I got sick on the trip.

Usually, I just “soldier on” through – but this time I took advice from Chris Adams. I rested. I went to bed and I didn’t move. I didn’t feel guilty! I recovered faster than I would have if I kept on working.

I am re-posting Chris’s advice from an earlier post that was timed for all his friends in the US as the US was entering the cold and flu season.

Now – Australia is in this season – this winter of discontent.

Businesses are full of sick people. Cities are full of sick people.

Business leaders are trying to make important decisions or give important presentations when they pumped full of cold and flu medicine.


Last week, I advised a client (the head of an organisation) to dare to refrain from important presentations or interviews for a day or two until she was fully recovered.

I know many business people are afraid they’ll miss out – if they have worked hard to line up an important meeting or presentation. They feel compelled to do it even though they are ill.

Now I accept that  there are different levels of sickness and different levels of urgency of business. Some times you CAN and  you MUST work on through and soldier on. I’m talking about “sick” sick  (fever, coughing etc) not just feeling “miserable” sick.

Chris’s advice echoed in my ears – you can cause more damage if your get it wrong or make bad decisions. Don’t play hurt or sick.

What do you think? Please add your comments.


Chris Adams is a former Facebook exec and Movie exec who worked with Jeff Skoll at Participant media – the organisation that made the award-winning films “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Syriana”.

Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media corporate culture was a “shock” to many hard-working execs

“Taking better care of yourself when you are ill” is a topic Chris is very passionate about – and he wants to get this message out to all his friends and colleagues in the Northern hemisphere where it’s coming into winter and the cold and flu season.

Cold and flu season in the US

Chris’s passion for spreading this message is based on “mistakes” he made in trying to work when he was sick AND from the experience he had working at Participant Media – where the corporate culture discouraged people from working (at all) when they were ill.

In this video, Chris warns about the dangers of working when you are ill – especially “blowing” important presentations or deals.

I shared with Chris how the “soldier on” culture was common in Australian business too and that there was even an advertising campaign based on “soldiering on”.

Organisations are starting to encourage sick workers to not come to work when they are ill – so they reduce the risk of infecting others.

are you doing more harm than good – working when you are sick?

Organisations should also take into account the financial risk of bad decisions and “performance” when workers are ill and under the influence of medication.

If you are new to this blog

Who is writing this?

I’m Tony Biancotti – an Australian  journalist turned communication consultant and I learn lots from former Hollywood exec and Facebook exec Chris Adams (who now lives in Brisbane). Chris and I catch up every month or so and I capture his views (on business, presenting, pitching etc) on camera. I write the text (my opinion)  in these posts and Chris gives his opinion in the video.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s