S2 Ep14 Jane Tweedy – Working while sick | FAQ Business Podcast

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Do you act as the martyr working while sick? Did you know this could be having detrimental impacts on you, your family, your colleagues and your clients?

This is an episode in thought leadership and is intended to challenge you to think.

PS This episode was recorded while Jane was Covid positive and Jane is therefore sick. Please excuse the blocked sinuses, though most of the heavy breathing and all the coughing has been removed!

Listen to the episode on all good podcast services, watch on YouTube or if you prefer to read jump on our blog. 

Disclaimer – All information provided today is general in nature. Please reach out to Jane if required for personalised advice or coaching. 

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Season 2 Episode 14 FAQ Business Podcast transcription | Working while sick

I’m stuck at home with Covid and in isolation, so I thought I might as well record a podcast about working while sick, so it is going to be a brief one today. Unfortunately for me, I came back from holiday all refreshed, kind of, and came straight back to Covid, which was not so good. It kind of undid the holiday vibe thing, but unfortunately, we can’t choose when we are sick.

00:27 Should we work when we are sick?

Let’s talk about whether we should be working when we’re sick and the implications it has on our clients, our colleagues, our families, and of course, ourselves.

00:43 Welcome to the FAQ Business Podcast

Welcome to the FAQ Business Podcast for business owners, covering four pillars actionable education, inspiring leaders, businesses like you, and thought leadership where we challenge your thinking. Hosted by myself, Jane Tweedy. I’m Founder and Lead Trainer of FAQ Business Training, where we want to avoid you getting ripped off or ripping yourself off. We’ll feature an amazing diversity of guests with lots to educate and inspire you. Let’s jump into today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast.

01:19 Introduction to Jane Tweedy who is currently sick

I’m Jane Tweedy Director and Lead Trainer at FAQ Business Training and host of the FAQ Business Podcast. I am currently Covid positive and struggling to breathe a bit, thanks to coughing and very blocked sinuses, which I’m sure you can hear. There are many problems with working while you’re sick, and this can also be setting an expectation to your clients that you will just power on through every time you’re sick and they may not give you that time to rest and recuperate.


01:52 Training and client session had to be cancelled

In my case, on Friday I had to cancel my appointments, which did include a webinar for a program I’m running, as well as a private session with a client. I just had too much brain fog.

02:06 Coughing and brain fog are not good for business

I actually thought I’d be able to get away with the second session. Certainly not the first one talking for 2 hours was not going to happen. I can only talk for a sort of five minutes max, probably before I start coughing my lungs out. But the brain fog. Oh my gosh, the brain fog and I’ll talk about that in a bit.

I do get into coughing fits and really not conducive to running a workshop. Rather than deliver that webinar badly, I decided to defer it till next week, when hopefully I will be able to be more engaged and focused and deliver a much better experience with a much clearer head.

02:41 Instead doing this quick podcast to talk about working while sick

I figured a quick podcast though, was okay, particularly one talking about this topic, so it doesn’t really matter if I’m a little bit sick while I’m presenting it. Here are some considerations you need to think of when you are deciding whether or not to work when you’re sick. Will you make yourself more sick and prolong your illness?

03:00 Need to get well as quick as possible and not end up in hospital!

Obviously, you want to get over being sick as quick as possible and return to good health, but you also definitely don’t want to end up in hospital. Because of my breathing difficulties when I’m coughing and because I am asthmatic, I am what’s called a virtual patient. I’ve been virtually admitted to hospital so that they can monitor my symptoms remotely. And I want it to stay that way.

03:23 Just doing a small amount of work is making me exhausted

The last thing I want to do is end up in hospital and definitely not end up in hospital on a ventilator. So I am very conscious of the fact that I need to be careful. And even on Friday, I did do a little bit of paperwork and oh my gosh, half an hour paperwork and I was dripping in sweat and had a high fever. So be really mindful of that.

Even seemingly little things, I was just sitting still, crying out loud, affected me and made me quite sick. So very much if you are sick, listen to your body and respond to it.


04:00 We don’t want to go to a workplace and be the ‘super spreader’

If you are physically going to go into a workspace so whether it’s hospitality or construction or presenting a workshop, remember, you are sharing your germs with the people there. And when this whole Covid thing was happening previously, the main pandemic, I was freaking out about that. Like I didn’t really want to present because I didn’t want to be seen to be the super spreader, going to a networking event and then presenting at an event and spreading it to everyone there. That would have been like the worst case scenario.

04:29 Thought I had hay fever but turned into Covid

And unfortunately, this happened on a very much smaller scale this week because on Wednesday I thought I had hay fever because I’ve been out in the bush and the grass, which I’m allergic to. And I thought, okay, I’ve got hay fever because I’ve got all hay fever like symptoms.

04:44 My first RAT test was negative

And so Wednesday morning I did take a RAT test before I went out. And unfortunately, the RAT test showed that I was negative when clearly probably wasn’t and was actually positive because by Thursday night I tested positive with a lot more coughing and spluttering and all that kind of fun stuff.

Remember, when you’re going to work, you’re sharing your germs with people if you’re going on public transport, even people walking down the street, even more importantly, with your workmates.

05:16 Last thing we should do is spread it through the workplace  

So the last thing you want to do is go into your office space and infect them with whatever you have. And to be honest, so far, although this has been not the most pleasant experience in the world, I’ve had the flu, I think twice in my life ever. And once you’ve genuinely had the flu, you know, you’ve had the flu. The flu is actually pretty horrific if you get a really bad flu, a genuine flu, not a man flu, or I’ve got a flu, but it’s actually a cold.


05:46 It’s different for everyone – friend has been hospitalised for 9 weeks!

And so I felt that this is actually not as bad so far for me. But I have a friend that has been in hospital for nine weeks. So it is definitely different for different people. And I’m certainly not undermining it, but not pleasant nonetheless.

06:04 You could be setting expectations for your staff to go to while sick as well

You definitely don’t want to share a flu or a cold or any kind of virus or anything with your colleagues at work, what’s the point in making everyone else sick? It’s just going to make the whole work suffer. And it also can be setting expectations for the staff that if you go in while sick that they have to go in while sick as well, which is not a good thing.

What about setting these expectations for your clients that you are always going to go in and therefore clients will expect you in the future to start working through any sickness? That is not a good way to be.

06:39 Be an example to your staff who need to have time off

Are you setting an unrealistic standard for your employees to meet? If they see you as the boss going in every time you’re sick like some sort of martyr, then what’s the expectation on them that they have to go in while they’re sick? That’s really not fair. You should be letting people who need to have time off have time off, but not just because you’re telling them that, but because you’re actually exhibiting it as well.

07:04 In some cases it could also affect your insurance

Worst case scenario, could it affect something like your insurance? Now obviously, if you have workers compensation claim in place, then it may be that you cannot have the person back to work until they have a clearance. So do bear that in mind.

But in any other situation, just bear in mind if you have got someone in that has quite a substantial brain fog like I have at the moment, having me at work could be seen to be a bit negligent and dangerous.

07:33 Brain fog is so bad I put the metal spoon in the microwave

For instance, I went to make myself some dinner on Thursday night because I was home alone and I put some food in the microwave. I spooned it into a dish. I put the dish in the microwave with a cover over the top of it. Thankfully one of those kind of full plastic covers.

When I took it out, I could not believe my eyes when I saw the stainless steel spoon sitting there. Because when I was a child, I put that little bread tag thing in the microwave. The ones, the little twisted ones and it had metal inside it and it started arcing immediately.

So I was amazed that I hadn’t had a fire or had major arcing happen. So yeah, that could have been really dangerous. And it was just purely because my brain is just not thinking straight. And of course, if my brain isn’t thinking straight, then how am I giving my clients a good experience?


08:27 If I had my client meeting that afternoon I would not have been giving 100%

So if I had that client meeting in the afternoon, I wouldn’t have been 100% there. I wouldn’t have been 100% present and would not have given the best experience to that client. So really consider that if you’re not giving the best of yourself, should you be giving yourself at all?

08:44 I couldn’t figure out something as simple as inbox

The brain fog though, has been quite unbearable. So obviously, if it had of been anything to do with being creative. Oh my gosh, I was doing a game on my phone and it asked for a five letter word that had x and i in it and I just couldn’t think of it and it said the clue was an email folder. Electronic email folder. 

And I’m just blankly staring at this thing, just blankly staring at it. In the end I looked it up right? And I’m like, oh my God, you idiot. Inbox, the thought didn’t even come across my mind. I was that out of it. So you’ve really got to play to your strengths and adapt to your weaknesses. And in this case I just can’t really do much thinking.

09:30 If you are sick listen to your body and give yourself a break

So my suggestion would be if you are sick, then make sure you’re listening to your body first and foremost and only doing the very minor things that you need to do to get done.

09:42 Episode last week S2 Ep13 Avoid burnout take a break

But remember, most things can wait. Just like an episode about taking a break a few weeks ago or a week ago now, who knows, it’s all blurred into one. Even in that episode we talked about taking a break. Even if you’re really busy. If you’re sick, for crying out loud, take a break. And yes, I need to listen to this myself.

10:02 Still feel awful about working while infected

I’m not going to be particularly intelligent or creative when my head space is this blocked up. I also felt absolutely awful for the fact that I did this workshop on Wednesday and I did kind of keep my distance from people, but still that’s five people or whatever that I could have infected, which is quite troublesome to me because that is the last thing I want to do and the last thing I want to do throughout this pandemic is to be someone that is spreading anything.

10:31 Tried to do the right thing by taking the RAT test

So hopefully I didn’t because that would just really make me feel absolutely awful. I did all the right things though, I did have minor symptoms of hay fever like symptoms. I tested negative, I had been having hay fever while we were camping because you can tell hay fever and I was reacting to the hay fever medicine, so it was okay. And so you don’t really think that much of it.

10:57 Make sure clients understand you need a break

The client expectations side, just make sure that clients understand that, hey, I might be doing a little bit of work for me, like recording this podcast, but hey, I am actually not doing client work for the next few days because it’s the weekend, but also because I need to have that break and I need to have time to clear my head.

So therefore even a little few things on my business has nothing to do with actually doing the work for the clients. So make sure you create that expectation that when you’re sick that you’re not just dropping everything for them and giving up your precious few minutes that you can work for that one client. It’s just not worth it at this time.

11:33 Don’t be a martyr at work – it’s counterproductive

As I said with colleagues, please don’t be a martyr. Don’t be the person that always has to show up when you’re sick and soldier through because it actually is counterproductive. It makes them think they have to do it as well. You can be spreading it to your entire workforce, which can make things a lot worse, particularly if they then take it home to a sick family member or something like that. That’s not good. We don’t want to do that.

So we want people to make sure that if they need to that they have their time off. Thought I’d just do this super quick podcast to remind you that when you’re sick, please remember to allow your body to dictate. Allow your body in your head to tell you when it is time to have a rest and recuperate and recover.

12:16 I’m going to rest after this as I don’t want to end up in hospital

The last thing you want to do is drag out the illness any longer than you need to. I’m already being monitored virtually due to my asthma and coughing fits and I definitely do not want to end up in hospital. So before this I was sleeping all afternoon. I am now going to go back to sleeping. I’ll edit this a bit later, send it off to my assistant.

So really it is only a very short piece of time I need to work and I definitely do not expect my worker to work if she was sick, I would rather she took time off and got better. I do not want to be responsible for any issues that she faces.


12:54 I don’t want to give this to clients so will be sticking to isolation rules

I definitely don’t want to be giving this to clients. I certainly won’t be doing any face to face stuff in the iso period or just thereafter and will be very much adhering to all the rules and requirements about staying in isolation.

13:09 Try to avoid public transport when you are unwell

Don’t travel on trains and public transport and things when you’re sick because there’s nothing worse than getting on the train. I do remember when I used to go to the city and I used to every single year pick up lurgy after lurgy always colds because let’s face it, most people have never had a flu because a flu when you’ve had it, you really know you’ve had it.

And there is nothing worse than getting on the train and having all the sick people around you coughing and spluttering. I used to joke that they had quiet carriages on the Blue Mountains trains. They really should have had sick carriages as well. You can put all the sick people in one carriage and they can all cough and splutter over each other. Because if they choose to be like that, they can just do it with their mates and not make everyone else sick.

13:54 That’s enough from me now as I need to go back to bed

So I’m off now and I’m going to head back to bed because honestly, this is a struggle and this is about the end of what I can do.

14:05 So really think about the impacts to colleagues, clients and family when you are unwell

So I do hope that if you’ve listened to this that you will really think about what work you’re doing when you’re unwell and the impacts that might have on your colleagues and your clients, your families and everything else and of course on yourself.

Don’t overwork yourself and potentially cause yourself to end up in a much worse position. We don’t want to see you do yourself, your family or your colleagues any harm.

Catch you later Jane Tweedy from FAQ Business Training. Host of the FAQ Business Podcast.

14:43 Thanks for listening to the FAQ Podcast don’t forget to subscribe

Thank you for listening to today’s episode of the FAQ Business Podcast, available on all good podcast services. You can subscribe today via FAQBusinessPodcast.com.au or directly on Apple iTunes, iHeartRadio or Spotify. Subscribe, follow, share, and where able to review our podcast or leave us a comment on either YouTube or our blog page.

Thanks for helping us to help the small to medium businesses who are growing and want to make a difference. Look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the FAQ Business podcast.


Today’s podcast episode featured our host Jane Tweedy. Her details are as follows:

Jane is a Professional Certified Coach with International Coaching Federation (PCC with ICF), business advisor and trainer. She loves working with growing small to medium business owners who are doing the right thing, to help them do it right! Currently, Jane offers at least 50 live sessions a year to train small business owners.

Jane offers a variety of services to clients and her online school and membership site went live late 2021. Jane’s focus for 2022 is building the membership and online school out further, and offering implementable small group training – something she finds is often the missing link.

If you are interested in training, speaking, or anything else Jane has to offer, please connect via training@faqbusiness.com.au or via the contact forms on our websites.

faqbusinesstraining.com.au – our main site with a great blog

faqbusinesstraining.com – our new online school

faqbusinesspodcast.com.au – our podcast site

And on the socials …

Facebook https://facebook.com/faqbusinesstraining

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About FAQ Business Training

If this is the first time you’ve come across us you may want to know who we are! FAQ Business Training has a mission to educate and empower small business owners to learn enough to do it yourself (DIY) or outsource with confidence. We do this via face to face training in Western Sydney (currently all training is provided online), speaking at conferences, events and networking groups and we have launched our online school and membership, offering online courses and webinars to appeal to a global (English speaking) audience. Connect with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.


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