How to Fight the Holiday Slump in Office Productivity

Oh, the holidays! Sweaters, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and … lowered productivity.

What causes this slump near the holidays?

  • Online shopping. According to CareerBuilder’s 2013 Cyber Monday Study, 54% of employees shop online, while on the clock.
  • Holiday parties. Preparing for–or recovering from–holiday parties definitely lowers productivity.
  • Gloomy weather. Not everyone is based in sunny San Diego like we are here at TonerHaus. Gloomy weather and the accompanying cabin fever can lead to lowered moods during the winter, with the extreme being Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It’s great when holiday cheer abounds in your office, but business also must continue. How can you strike that delicate balance between working hard and playing hard during the holidays?

Embrace the Holidays

Decorate the office to get in the holiday spirit. Sitting down to create spreadsheets is much more enjoyable while sipping a cup of cocoa amidst holiday decorations. Set a budget for decorations and task the most festive employees with decking the halls.

Another way to really embrace the holidays is to host a holiday party. You can do this outside of office hours or during office hours. Either way, we really suggest it: holiday parties are great for morale and team-building as they enable employees to get to know each other outside of work.

Consider Closing the Office

Most offices are closed on Christmas and Thanksgiving since they’re national holidays. However, what about the days before or after? If you’re operating with a skeleton staff, it might be best to close the office for an extra few days.

Plan Ahead

As soon as January 1st hits, many business pick right up. Use the slow time at the end of the year to strategically plan for the year ahead. What changes need to be made? What goals will you set? How will you get there? Work with your team to create a road map that will get you ahead of your competition, who are likely just sipping hot apple cider all day. Why not mix in a little strategic planning with your apple cider?

Decrease Chances of Illness

Getting sick, as people tend to do during the winter months, will definitely cause a dip in productivity. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help decrease the spread of illness in your office, thereby preventing an illness-related dip in productivity.

Take your Hand off the Thermostat

Have you ever tried to type when your office is freezing? Have you ever tried to concentrate when you’re dehydrated from a hot office? Neither of these are positive work experiences. In a misguided effort to help employee productivity and the bottom line, some larger companies keep office temperature controlled from inside corporate’s far-away ivory tower. This may be good for the bottom line, but it can hinder productivity as everyone has an optimum temperature for comfort.

Instead, allow employees to dictate the thermostat levels in their work areas. If they share a work area with others, encourage them to check in with with their space-mates on their comfort level before and after changing the thermostat.

Encourage Exercise

To encourage healthy lifestyles during winter or year-round, consider buying a company-wide gym membership, giving employees extra time on their lunch breaks to get moving, or, if space allows, even hosting instructor-lead exercise classes at the office.

This may sound strange, but hear me out. While working in an office, I would often use my lunch break to go for a run. When I told non-coworkers about my healthy lunch-time habit, I was usually met with an expression of disgust. When people would say, “Isn’t that kind of gross to exercise on your lunch break and then go back to work?” I would respond, “Not as gross as if I didn’t exercise at all.” A few weeks after I started using my breaks for exercise, three-quarters of my office joined in as well. Rather than seeing a slump in productivity around 2:00 pm, our office noticed a spike in productivity, due to the adrenaline from our afternoon exercise.

Getting exercise by whatever means your employees can will bring great benefits to their personal lives, as well as your business. Exercise helps to keep employees healthy, boosts their mood, and increases productivity.

Give Them Light

As stated earlier, some employees become afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder. When extreme enough, SAD is protected under the disability law. Luckily there are simple accommodations that can be made such as having a workspace near a window, purchasing special light boxes, and allowing employees enough break time to get outside for some vitamin D, while the sun is still out.

After all this talk about productivity, remember one thing: your employees are human. Embrace the collective holiday cheer and show appreciation for all that your employees do.

Image courtesy Erica Zabowski, Flickr, Creative Commons.

This entry was posted in Basic Office Management, Office Management and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.