Working with Asthma

I work in Information Technology and, yes, a lot of the stereotypes hold true. I am that pale asthmatic nerd. I don't really go outside during daylight hours and have a genetic predisposition to sunburn anyway.

I work for a good-sized corporation with an international presence. Like most IT professionals, I have some remote work capabilities. Additionally, working for a large company provides me access to a nice selection of benefits, including health insurance options with a very comprehensive network of doctors, clinics, and pharmacies.

Working with asthma in a healthy environment

I am lucky that I work on a team that has a culture of 'don't come in - just log in - if you are sick'. We don't spread colds or the flu because as a team we are pretty good about keeping our germs to ourselves. I don't catch a teammate's cold over the conference call line.

Our managers are very understanding about when we need to work from home or take a day out sick. It is a nice compromise to be able to sit at home with my box of tissues and hot tea when I'm just a little under the weather. I don't have to worry about getting the whole office sick and can cough in peace. Working from home also affords me the opportunity to take a lunch break nap.

Communicating with my manager

I have a good relationship with my manager, who is very understanding if I need to rearrange my schedule with a late or long lunch to accommodate a doctor's appointment. I don't get separate sick time, so it's nice for me to be able to avoid taking a vacation day if I just have a quick clinic visit to squeeze in on a particular day.

I haven't specifically requested anything to accommodate my asthma. Up until this point in my professional career, I haven't had any significant issues. I think this is a place where you should be especially cautious of oversharing. My work duties involve sitting in a cubical at a computer with a fairly standard office set up. There isn't really anything I personally need changed in my work environment to avoid asthma troubles.

I don't have a strenuous physical activity component to the job nor any significant triggers present in our office. My experience working in a corporate job has been that team culture strongly influences the day-to-day life. The relationships I've built with my teammates and managers allow me to have flexibility with scheduling and work location when I need it.

Balancing work and health

My experience has been that, with a healthy work-life balance, asthma isn't really a significant concern to my work productivity. My managers and are aligned on the common goal of growing my career and producing quality IT solutions for the company.

To that end, they are willing to work with me to remove obstacles to my success. If I move to a new team I would look for similar flexibility to accommodate my needs as a person with asthma. When I behave in a professional manner I am treated as a professional. What have been your experience of being a working professional with asthma?

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