Weakened Immune System and Open Plan Offices at Work - NRAS


33,678 members41,738 posts

Weakened Immune System and Open Plan Offices at Work

Eden1 profile image

Hi I have recently been diagnosed (Nov ‘19) with RA and I have been off work for the past few months as I had a hip replacement in September. I have been on Methotrexate for almost 6 weeks and steroid injections prior that - I still have pain and stiffness but certainly not as bad as it was initially although I know this may be down to the steroid injections. In the hope that the methotrexate kicks in I am hoping to get back to work late January/ early February. I have a fairly stressful office based job with long hours (sometimes self inflicted to be honest!) . I know I will need to make some changes when I return and one thing I would be interested to hear from others on is the effect of working in a large open plan office environment and having a weakened immune system. In my current seating arrangements I share a relatively confined space with 3 others (one of whom often seems to have a cold!) and others close by in an open plan layout although prior to this I had my own office space nearby without others in very close proximity. I intend to ask to reoccupy this space (it’s currently vacant) on the basis that I want to mitigate as far as possible against office germs etc in an open plan office / close working environment due to my weakened immune system. Just wondered if this sounds reasonable to others or if anyone has had a similar experience? Thanks

13 Replies

Your offices presumably have some form of air circulation? So I doubt it will make any difference where you sit. The MTX does slightly compromise your immune system, but if you are generally a normally healthy person it shouldn’t make much of a change. In 9+ years on MTX, and now with biologics too, I have not had any more colds or other infections than previously. If anything I am healthier as look after myself better and take care.

Wash your hands regularly, if colleagues have a cold ask them to cough into tissues and throw them away (if they don't already do so!) rather than cough in your face, and keep a bottle of hand gel with you. It really is ‘t a massive risk at the low doses we take.

Hi Eden, I tend to take a pragmatic approach to these things. Unless you have any additional underlying immune system conditions, I wouldn’t panic. You do need to practice good hygiene. I am in a huge open plan office and we hot desk. We all use antibacterial spray and give a good clean of all the equipment daily. I suggest this is something you do. Make sure you wash your hands and avoid touching your face, as this is often the way germs are spread. I keep a little bottle of antibacterial hand gel too. I think you should be fine to work as you are but try it and see how it goes. It’s all quite worrying when these things are new. Have you spoken to your rheum or rheum nurse about this?

It is worrying but there’s not a lot you can do. Make sure you have the flu and pneumonia vaccine that’s very important. Hand gel and wipes might be a good idea.I work in a school with children and I don’t seem to catch much. Pre diagnosis I always had the “flu” sometime several times a year ... know different now 😁in that aspect I’m much better.

I work in a health centre in an open office and always seem to miss the “coughs and colds” I clean my desk, telephone, headset & keyboard every morning with Clinell antibacterial wipes and no one else is allowed to use my desk, try not to over think these things, I have antibacterial gel in my pocket and use it after I’ve opened doors/communal areas etc and that’s outside of work too👌🏼🤞🏼

Hi, I'm a Prison Officer working with almost 1000 prisoner's who are always down with something or other and whatever it is, it spreads like wildfire!!

My advice, hand wash, hand wash hand wash and if you can't hand wash carry gel as a backup!!

Good luck!

It’s funny. I was really wary of being around anyone with a cold etc...as thought it could kill me off if I caught it. In fact, the exact opposite has happened. I take mtx and biologics and never catch anything even when people have been coughing and sneezing all over me. I had one bout of a sore throat earlier in the year and it came and went without issue. I did get w bit obsessive about taking my temperature though . It was always normal!

All excellent advice and I too have stayed fit and healthy by adopting the same principles!!! Fingers crossed 🤞🏻 this routine works for you too.

Hi Eden1 - I have been fortunate to work from home 2 days and office.

When in office I ensure I have a hanky always and use a hand sanitizer too. It's amazes me how many people sneeze, cough without covering their faces! Or decide to come into the office with a heavy cold.

Washing hands always - the biggest cause of germs is this simple act! Lastly for me I do spend a lot on good quality supplements ☺️

All the best. Hessie

I've been on methotrexate for the last 11 years, and worked in an office the entire time. Very similar situation by the sounds of it. Methotrexate does slightly compromise your immune system but I've not noticed any significant increase in me getting ill, I will say it takes me longer to get over anything I do get.... But I'm on humira as well!

Hand gel will help, as others have mentioned, and other than that just be aware who has a cold and don't book a long meeting with them!

I work in a large open plan office and share a block with three others. As others have said use hand gel regularly and keep desk and keyboard clean. I don't seem to catch anything more than others do and germs are everywhere. I used to worry at the start of it all but now just accept that we will catch some things just like everybody else does, although it does take longer to recover. Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

I hate the “new” open or pod office plans. Noisy, loud, messy, germy, distracting, sloppy. There was a pragmatic reason for cubicles.

It’s all about open & shared being cheaper.

It will end up costing more in lower productivity & loss of labor thru sickness,.

I picked up a bronchial infection from a co-worker & 6 wks was later awoke immobilized with severe sudden onset RA, My life is ruined, Be careful of airborne germs.

Hi, I work as an Ophthalmic Nurse in a busy NHS Outpatients. I have been on biologic meds for 8 years and various DMARDS for 9 years . I am currently on Imraldi and Hydroxychloroquine and like several people who have posted before I never seem to pick up any coughs, colds, infections etc despite colleagues and patients coughing and spluttering. I remember a nurse manager who said when I started on biologic meds, we are a small team if you start being off sick then you know where the door!!!! Ironically not me off sick!!!! Best of luck. Bb

All I have to say is my daughter-in-law is in a vulnerable group so requested a work day change from one where lots were in the office to a day when very few in the office, as didn't feel safe.

Her employer were fine with it but then they are an amenable bunch she works for. :)

You may also like...