Baby, it’s getting cold outside. Yet that doesn’t mean that you should let the weather slow down your productivity in the office.
In fact, while you’ve probably read many articles on how winter weather decreases overall productivity and motivation, recent studies have shown that this is only partially true. In 2015, The Atlantic published an article, “Bad Weather: Better for Work, Terrible for Everything Else” looking at new research experiments in American and Japanese workplaces. These studies found that the cold winter weather is a positive boost for workplace productivity, because employees are more focused on the tasks at hand rather than distracted by what they could be doing outside of the office.
I know what you are thinking, “If that is so, then why is it that all I want to do is snuggle up on the couch under a warm blanket and binge on Netflix throughout the winter?” Here’s why: Those previous assumptions on weather decreasing productivity aren’t completely wrong.
Our minds and bodies are habitually affected by the seasonal weather changes.
With the winter months comes Daylight Savings Time (this year on November 5th at 2 a.m.), originally advocated by William Willet, meant to help conserve energy and make better use of the daylight. Since we experience less sunlight during this time of year, we naturally feel more tired and more compelled to want to hibernate.
This decrease in energy also contributes to a lesser desire to remain active. You may think that those people jogging in the chilled air are a bit crazy, but they are doing themselves a favor. They are not only keeping good habits, but they are also utilizing the full extent of the sun’s rays that provide Vitamin D. Having a lack of Vitamin D can result in fatigue and tiredness, a weakened immune system that jeopardizes healing and resistance, lower back and overall joint pain due to your inability to further absorb calcium, higher chance of experiencing decreased mood and activity, greater stress resulting in hair loss and high blood pressure, and chronic pain due to a reduction in nerve growth.
If that wasn’t enough, all of this can be furthered by our laziness towards our eating habits as well. Whether it is from wanting to get in and out of the grocery store quickly to beat bad weather, sweet and salty cravings due to melancholy, a limited budget during the holidays, or indulging in all the goodies of holiday dinners – it can be easy to step away from healthy eating habits during the winter months, furthering our lack of energy and lack of motivation to be more productive overall.
When these are put together, you not only feel less productive and confident as an individual, your lack of energy and productivity is also very likely to influence your work.
The lesson: Caring for yourself is the first step to staying productive at work.
If you are not taking care of your mind and body, then almost nothing that your work offers to boost productivity during the winter is going to benefit you to the fullest. So, it is your job at home to fight back and sustain your natural energy all season long. This means continuing to eat balanced meals (including Vitamin D rich foods like salmon, eggs, and nuts), exercising at least 30-minutes a day, going for daily walks outside (yes, even if it’s in the snow!), and perhaps even using a light therapy alarm clock to wake-up refreshed every morning.
After all, if you doing what you can on a personal level to stay vibrant and healthy, then you will have no excuse not to utilize the “extra” time in the office to the fullest.
Here is how everyone can be productive at work during the winter months.
While there is the natural tendency for employees to be more productive, that doesn’t mean that employers and employees shouldn’t take extra steps to help boost productivity even further. Here are some great ways for your organization or business to improve office productivity:
- Set clear goals – It may not be the New Year quite yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start working on office resolutions early. Have office meetings to encourage employees to think about their individual goals for the upcoming year, in addition to what goals the whole business should have to boost its success or growth. All goals should be posted in cubicles and in a central location so that everyone is constantly working to move forward.
- Be mindful of yourself and others – Mindfulness leads to a great deal of happiness. It brings greater awareness to your accomplishments and weaknesses, leading to greater positivity and confidence that can reduce the likelihood of experiencing decreased mood in the winter months. It can also encourage better employee attitudes and better work performance.
- Encourage healthy habits – Not every individual employee is likely to have the same type of motivation to maintain healthy habits outside of work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide some help in that department. Encourage employees to eat healthy and stay active through an employer Wellness Program or provide financial wellness benefits, giving them even more of an incentive to care for themselves.
- Keep the office climate comfortable – A Cornell University study once found that employees were more likely to be less productive and less efficient in their work when the office temperature was at or below 68 degrees (F), because they became more uncomfortable and distracted. To optimize employee productivity, keep the office temperature around 77 degrees.
- Do some winter cleaning – The cold winter weather is the perfect excuse to clean out the office and prepare for the year to come. Not only will you clear space for new work throughout the next year, your employees will also feel less overwhelmed and stressed within a clean office space.
- Act against spreading sickness – The last thing you want is your employees missing work due to the flu or a cold. Take charge throughout the flu season and decrease sick days by keeping sanitizer and soap stocked, and minimizing the sharing of office supplies.
- Be more social – It is easy to become more isolated this time of year, so be sure that employees are connecting during lunches, meetings and social gatherings. Keeping that link between physical and mental warmth will help keep a positive office setting.
- Provide flexible schedules – Winter weather always leaves the potential for hazardous road conditions, leading to greater stress due to traffic, accidents, delays, and car problems. Cut employees some slack by providing more flexible work hours or giving the option of working from home when possible.
- Rethink the office furniture – If employees are going to be stuck inside, you might as well ensure that they are provided with comfortable and high-quality office furniture. Better Office Furniture believes that ergonomic furniture is one of the greatest ways to boost office productivity and better employee health all year long.
Want to learn more about how to boost your office productivity? Check out the Better Office Furniture blog, visit us on Facebook or Twitter, or set-up an appointment and ask about our Office Planning Resources today!