Some background is needed here. I'm a young worker from an IT company, so I'm lacking experience to deal with my current situation.
I'm not quite the strong guy who can resist everything and be fine, more like the one who can get the cold very easily during autumn/winter. It's quite common for me to get sick three or even four times in that period. Not to the point I can't work, but to the point I'm tired and have difficulty to work. Yet, since it occurs quite often, and since I'll be okay after just one day I try as much as I can to not take sick leaves for such mild disease. It would impact my work more than coming to work while sick, and also definitely impact my paychecks in a way I can't handle it. Young worker means not much income, which I can't afford to lessen.
The problem is, the first time, my coworkers where okay with that. After the second time, they began joking cynically about that. This year is the third time I do that, and definitely they're becoming bitter about the subject. They believe (rightfully or not), that by coming at the office sick, I make them sick too. I can't blame them for this, as I think it might be true to some extent (nonetheless, everyone in my office must take the metro to work, and meet probably tens of sick people there but whatever...).
It has come to a point where it escalated gently to my project manager. By gently I mean it is no disciplinary action, just unofficial talks between me and the project manager, and in one occasion, with a part of the team. He wants me to take days off when I'm sick. And if at first, it was for my health they were concerned, now they are concerned by the team in general.
Here comes my problem. It's been two weeks I'm not sick to the point I can't work. Yet I'm still occasionally coughing, blowing my nose, sneezing. When my coworker hear me, they feel uncomfortable as if I could still make them sick, and they tell it to me. Perhaps I can, but it's been two weeks, do they expect me to take ten days off to heal? Do they expect me to do this every time I catch the cold? Should I do that, it would require thirty days of leave. That's insanely huge.
My situation is not too difficult yet, but I have the feeling it will worsen as time goes, like it already happen, going from "Okay don't overwork" to "Stay away from me forced laughter". I think I might have to take sick days just to make my coworkers feel better and I don't like that idea. I don't like the idea either of being considered the cause of everyone's diseases.
What are my best options at this point?
Taking a day or two each time I'm sick, using my paid leaves. It will hurt my planned holidays but less than having something like 10 days of unpaid work a year.
Working remotely. Since I'm not sick to the point I can't work, asking my boss to work from home a day or two would help me curing my cold faster, without being seen as a 'viral weapon of mass destruction' by my coworkers.
Taking several days of sick leaves each time, mostly to accommodate my coworkers. Don't like such option, because I definitely don't need these and it would have a bad financial impact for me.
I considered coming to work with an antiviral face mask as people do in Asia, and to use an hydro alcoholic solution to wash frenetically my hands whenever I get sick. Yet I work in restricted access environment, and facial masks are really uncommon there. I fear it could be seen very negatively by security.
Last option, the one I wish to avoid: escalate to my direct manager (not the project one) or even to HR. In case nothing works, I just thought I could escalate, to ask being sent in another team.
I already read this subject in The Workplace: Dealing with co-workers who don't want anyone to use sick days and so I understand what disturbs my coworkers. Yet if I were to listen them every time they say "Stay at home" I'll end up unemployed soon for sure.