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"Working from Home, I'm sick" or "Surely the world will stop if I step away"

posted Feb 13, 2013, 10:45 AM by Bill Schuller   [ updated Feb 13, 2013, 10:46 AM ]
"I need you to be healthy and leveraging your full potential more than I need you to be giving an effort degraded by illness now. Go home and rest. Put your energy into recovery rather than work and we will both have a better outcome in the end."

Any thoughts on effective policy to provide incentives towards this? Any ideas on how to measure the impact of working while ill vs concentrating on recovery? 

I see a common strategy of "I'm sick, so I'm going to work from home so I don't spread it around". It's admirable that folks don't want to spread things around, but what about the quality of work that is delivered in this state? I know that I can't muster the same level of rigor. My ability to weigh a broad set of options when making decisions is severely hampered as well.

In the end, is my employer more hurt by my absence during focused recovery or by the reduced effectiveness during a recovery drawn out by channeling energy away from recovery and towards work?

!!!! Neurology Nerd Alert - Below information references low level science !!!!

I'm not talking about energy  commonly described as qi, prana or aura. I am referring to cellular energy generated by mitochondria throughout your body. It is well established that organs compete for available energy, including the brain. When you body is fighting infection, a substantial amount of available energy is devoted to that fight. You bodies primary defense against infection is inflammation which also stacks the deck against good cognitive function.

So there is a double-whammy at play. There is higher overall demand for energy as your body fights the infection. Less net energy is available to the brain. The sort of inflammation that fights infection is systemic affecting all parts of the body including the brain. This in itself is a double-whammy. Inflammation restricts blood flow in the brain limiting it's access to energy in the blood stream (glucose, ketones). It also triggers a myriad of inflammation regulation processes acting on the endothelial cells which control microvascular constriction in the brain. That takes energy as well!

My conclusion - the body is an interconnected super-system. As I have paid more attention to how it works I'm becoming more familiar with both current limitations as well as the theoretical maximums. Working within my current limits and working past them to get closer to my most capable self has actually up-regulated my success. That's right! I've taken measures to ensure I can bring my most effective self to the table which for me has meant making sure that I stop working when I need to.