I'll take it slow today

Tue, Mar 12, 2024 3-minute read

It’s one of the trends that came with WFH being more accepted (hello, COVID, my (old) friend) in the workplace.

People will often show up online and say something like, “I’ll take it slow today,” “I’m not 100%, but I’ll try to do something,” or they will just put a battery icon with almost depleted energy as their status, followed by some text along the lines I mentioned previously. It’s supposed to mean that even though the person is not feeling great, they’re not feeling that bad, so they can’t do their work. The only caveat is - that no one knows for sure what it means.

Have you noticed the trend? Are you one of the “I’ll take it slow today” people?  Don’t worry; I’m not judging. I want to tell you why this may not be a great idea. Even though it’s probably used with the greatest intentions, the whole “taking it slowly” thing is disruptive for both sides—the one taking it slowly and all the others who usually interact with that person.

Here are some reasons against it:

  1. Expectations are not clear. What does your status mean? Should people not contact you or set new meetings with you? How long will it take you to respond to the messages? Can your coworkers still count on your pre-agreed workload being finished while you’re taking it slowly?
  2. You’re creating an unhealthy culture. By sending out a message that you’re working while not feeling well, you’re normalizing working while being sick. It’s even worse if you hold a more senior position in the company. Remember the “lead by example” motto.
  3. The evaluation period is not divided into slow and regular days. There’s no “working slowly” option in the management’s calendar. No one will adjust your evaluation to account for you not being 100%. Even worse, you risk making mistakes when you’re not feeling well. It’s a lose-lose situation for your career progression.
  4. You make others feel guilty. People see your status, and they evaluate whether their request is important enough to bother you while you’re not feeling well.

If you’re not feeling well enough to work, don’t. Focus on recovery and return to work when you can handle your tasks as you would regularly. If you decide to work even though you’re under the weather, clarify your availability and scope of work. If you choose to follow that path, here’s an example of how to handle that communication.

“Hello [team, person]. I’m not feeling that great today, but I’m OK enough to take the meeting with our stakeholders, as it’s a big pain to reschedule. I will be online from 11:30 to 13:00 to see that through and create the meeting notes. After that, I’ll take time to recover, and I’ll be offline. I’ll keep you updated on my status!”

When it comes to communication in the workplace, try to be as precise as possible. Also, take care of your health, mental and physical.