My colleague who has his desk next to mine in the office has a cold.

What can I do not to become infected?

Some precautions are widely known, such as washing hands as often as possible, not touching the face with the hands, eating healthy foods, opening windows, sports etc. But what do you do? A real lifehack?

  • @Martin I saw your answer and if you added the material you put in the comments to your question I think that the question would be much better. Welcome to Life Hacks Stack Exchange! – Pobrecita Jan 9 '15 at 16:16
  • @darthnesscoveredthesky: Good idea, done. – Martin Jan 9 '15 at 18:10
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    To all close-voters: I think the question is on-topic; however, I doubt there's a hack. Let's leave this question open, and we'll find out if, indeed, there is a hack for this. – Shokhet Jan 9 '15 at 19:06
  • “Maybe something foolproof? A real lifehack?” Uh? How can something foolproof be a hack? The very definition of “hack” is a quick-and-dirty solution that doesn't have to work in full generality. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jan 9 '15 at 19:42
  • @Gilles Sorry, my English isn't that good. Foolproof: "Incapable of going wrong or being misused" (emphasize mine). "Hack" not "officially", but in jargon among others: "An incredibly good, and perhaps very time-consuming, piece of work that produces exactly what is needed.", and that's what I thought about (and this is how I sometimes use the word "hack"). However, I do not think this is important. – Martin Jan 10 '15 at 21:43

First and foremost methods are using droplet protection and cleaning whenever you touch something that is infected.

Besides washing your hands and making sure you and other people cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing you could also do these methods:

  • Make a Face Mask. These can be made out of handkerchiefs, high collars(if you aren't suppose to wear one, but you need to), disposable paper products that can be thrown away after you use them once. You could buy ones but these are home-made ones.

  • Make a barrier. This can be done by putting high boundaries up, like books, laying coats across the area and etc. Anything that will protect against droplet infection.

Prevention of Droplet-spread Illnesses:

Avoid close contact.

Germs are transmitted easily when you live in close quarters, especially during winter months when we stay indoors. If you have a droplet-spread illness, avoid getting close to colleagues, friends, or family members. Tell them you're sick and that you don't want them to catch the virus. This helps protect them from getting sick, too.

And remember to hand wash and disinfect things that a lot of people touch before eating or use.

You should wash or disinfect your hands whenever you've touched something that an infected person might recently have touched: computer keyboards, telephone receivers, doorknobs, elevator buttons, faucet handles, countertops, railings, and so on.

  • Using your sleeve when touching objects also helps. Using Vitamin C and other vitamins that promote immune health are suppose to help, but never overdose and consult a doctor. Vaccines are a must and depending on a the place you work, the vaccine may be free.

Additional Info

Know your company policy, and remember to always review it. If a person is spreading disease and other illness they may not be suppose to go work and they could be sent home depending on the policy.

  • Remember hand-washing protects against many diseases while using sanitizers doesn't. Sanitizers are good if you can't get to a sink. Always wash hands if they are visibly soiled, sanitizer will only make mud.

  • Disinfecting sprays can be made with 1/4 cup bleach and 1 gallon of water.


You can use disposable devices that cover your mouth and nose with scarf, veil, face shields or surgical mask while sitting in the office which will provide minimal protection from viruses. Or gently ask him to cover his mouth and nose to not infect others in the office:) BTW. Shouldn't he treat his cold/flu at home?

For additional protection, you may use air purifiers on your desk which are capable of capturing a greater number of bacteria and viruses.

As for additional precaution, constantly drink beverages (or eat food) containing Vitamin C (remember that it gets washed out of your body quicker than the other vitamins, because our body can't store it).

Other life hacks could include buying a full spectrum light bulb which will revitalises office atmosphere by removing micro pollutants and eliminating airborne pathogens, viruses and bacteria (similar to UV lamp which creates a deadly effect on micro-organisms).

Other suggestions:

  • ask your mentor for another desk by explaining the situation (tell him, that you're very sensitive to bacteria and when you're infected - bad things happen),
  • when your colleague is away from his desk, hide on his desk a stink bomb, it smell terrible, but hopefully he'll decide to change his desk away from yours.

Use surgical mask (Japan style face-mask)! This is a true Life Hack !

These masks can protect against droplet infection and can be made by just wrapping a cloth around your face or making some yourself. They are also rather better looking than regular masks and offer protection.


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