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I share on office room with a co-worker who remarked that they unfortunately discovered bed-bugs at home, and their landlord was not doing much to help.

Since I sit in less than 1 metre of proximity to them, this got me paranoid of the off-chance that I could catch an infestation from them (I've had past experience). The advice I found online told me that my fears had some merit.

So I asked to sit away for the time being - until my co-worker resolve the issue, and politely (I think) let them know why. My internal reasoning was that, despite the low risk, the highly damaging and stressful situation a bed bug infestation of my own would bring made it too costly to stay in the same room.

I now feel guilty that my request and behaviour was unprofessional and rude. Did I go too far?

  • 4
    It depends on how you conveyed the request. What exactly did you say? – Zaid Apr 13 '17 at 2:40
  • 2
    scientificamerican.com/article/top-10-myths-about-bed-bugs - seems like it really isn't a problem in an office environment. The likelihood that they have traveled on their person from home to work is very low – NKCampbell Apr 13 '17 at 15:44
  • Whatever you do and whatever happens, you shouldn't feel bad about this. Gotta look out for number one. – ell Dec 12 '17 at 23:28
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I now feel guilty that my request and behaviour was unprofessional and rude. Did I go too far?

The solution to that is simple: talk to your co-worker. A good opening might be something along the lines of:

Hey there, I didn't mean to be rude about the bedbugs, but I've had an infestation a few years ago that took me ages to get rid of, so I'm a bit silly and paranoid about it. Sorry about that!

Which will probably be met with understanding, no matter how rude your initial request came off (if it all).

From what I read, the chance of getting infected by bed-bugs from your co-worker are slim; but that's not all that important here – it's not unreasonable to be irrational to some degree about these sort of things. It's human nature.

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This is an obviously opinionated answer, but I don't feel like you went too far as long as your actual request was reasonable. If you asked them to move another couple of meters away and your office has enough space, then I would think that's fine. If you asked them to pack up their things and move down the hall into a closet, that would probably not be okay.

The workplace should be a space where you can get your work done to the best of your ability. If you are constantly worrying about an infestation then you won't be able to focus on your work.

EDIT - It was pointed out by a comment that I didn't read the OP correctly. They stated that they asked to move away, meaning they are the one that moved. I can see why this might be more embarrassing for the co-worker, rather than insulting.

  • @Joe Starazzere That is a very valid point. If the co-worker has space to move, then the OP should also be able to move. – curt1893 Apr 13 '17 at 15:50
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    My impression from that question is that the OP, not the coworker, was the one that moved. – Caleb Apr 13 '17 at 16:05

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