Last week I had the flu -- the particularly bad strain sweeping the nation this year. I hadn’t been sick in a while, so when I first got a little cough I thought nothing of it. However, by the next day I was feverish and lethargic.
I checked my symptoms online, and WebMD told me that people with the flu should definitely stay home rather than risk infecting others. Got that, all you coughing and sneezing people on the commuter train?
I decided to clear most of my work calendar and spend the week at home. Frankly, it was a difficult step to take. For a startup, time is precious and writing off an entire week made me feel worse than I already did. But it turned out to be the right decision. By not going to work, I didn’t infect my coworkers and take a half dozen people down with me.
But just because I was sick and at home didn’t mean I stopped working completely. In fact, by eliminating my commute and accepting that I was going to be home for a while, I saved energy that I was able to redirect to getting some work done. As my health allowed, I emailed and instant-messaged with colleagues. I also used Google Hangouts for a couple of meetings, although those tended to wear me out.
The good news was that since our company is distributed across multiple location,s there wasn’t a huge difference in productivity. With proper management, distributed teams are a great way to build a business.
In between working and sleeping, I used a fair bit of media. But unlike when I was a kid home sick from school, the TV rarely went on other than to catch a bit of the presidential inauguration. My tablet was a workhorse, with the Netflix app getting heaviest use. Documentaries like "Revolution OS," the history of the open source software movement, were particularly enjoyable. Episodes of shows like BBC’s "Top Gear" were also a welcome diversion. It’s no wonder that Netflix reported outstanding revenue growth and profits last week -- it’s a great product at a fantastic price.
My one big regret about being sick was missing this year’s TD Foundation annual cocktail party fundraiser in New York. It’s one of my favorite industry events. This year the charity raised another $51,000 for some of the world’s neediest children.
Despite the fact that technology has made it easier than ever to work remotely -- particularly during illness -- I must say I’m quite happy to be back at work today. All the gmail, IMs and video chats in the world can’t take the place of real face-time with colleagues.