Christmas is a mixed blessing for businesses. On the one hand, there’s food, festivity, family, and the chance to finish up work for the year. On the other hand, many employees mentally finish up long before they’ve left for the holidays.
Yes, in all the excitement for the annual ritual of eating roast turkey, drinking a little too much alcohol, and revisiting decades of family resentments that should by all rights be long-buried, it’s easy for productivity to suffer. If this happens in your workplace, you’re certainly not alone.
But there are things you can do to stave off the seasonal slump, and they don’t involve cancelling Christmas. Here’s how you can drive productivity and get better results from your team.
A recent survey of SME decision-makers revealed that improving the design and layout of the workspace could positively influence productivity. The biggest businesses (and tech companies especially) tend to have dedicated areas away from desks, computers, and other people. There’s a good reason for this: a chillout zone, a leisure room – somewhere where your employees can go to either do work or clear their heads – can make a huge difference.
Of course, you probably don’t have the resources to buy Google-style nap pods or invest in a comprehensive office redesign. The good news is that you don’t have to: a couple of sofas and a coffee machine will very often do the trick. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be there.
Give your employees an alternative to their desk, a couple of nice seats in the breakroom would go a long way and they’ll thank you for it.
This can be hard to come by during the winter months – especially after 4pm – but make the most of the sunshine when it’s there. Artificial light can cause eye strain, fatigue, and lack of focus. Open the blinds and situate desks as close to the windows as possible.
There’s a reason they use bright artificial lights in interrogations: they make people uneasy and you want them to feel as comfortable as possible if you want them to work as productively as they can.
Colour And Decoration
Colour and decorations can have a considerable impact on emotion, behaviour, and wellbeing: it’s a well-documented phenomenon. This is something that film directors understand intuitively: in Toy Story, Andrew Stanton used blue and white colours to signify the gentleness and tranquillity of childhood; The Coen Brothers used sepia to convey an old-timey, all-American feel in O Brother, Where Art Thou?; David Lynch has used red in aggressive and disorienting ways throughout his entire career.
The same principle applies to the workplace colour palette. Greens are natural and can stave off anxiety. Blue can have a mollifying effect – but too much can convey sadness, so it’s worth getting the balance right. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid any jarring colours or colour combinations. If nothing else, they make your office look ugly.
It’s also worth getting some greenery and other visually appealing items into the office as decoration: a few strategically placed plants and paintings can make a big difference. It won’t cost you a lot, and if you need to put any of your old stuff away, you can usually find a cheap self storage unit nearby.
Also, let your workers be festive – get a Christmas tree, let them put up fairy lights around the cubicles and stick Christmas Cards on the walls. Making the office feel more homely and welcoming can do wonders for employee morale.
Handle The Admin
The first law of productivity is to jettison all unnecessary tasks. If the CEO or senior manager is wasting time arranging photocopier repairs, fixing the wi-fi, or answering the door and/or phone, that’s time they can’t use on strategic operational and commercial work.
Key staff and decision-makers should always be free to focus on activities that drive profit. The other stuff is important, but it can be handled by someone else – a junior member of staff, or outside office manager that you hire for day-to-day admin and tasks. Even if they’re only part time, they can make a big difference.
Strengthen Your Brand
A sense of mission does a lot for productivity. If your team knows what their mission is, they’re likely to have an easier time of striving towards it. A business’ identity is more than the name of the building and the fluffy values you talk about in your proposals and marketing material. It’s a sense of the company’s self: an understanding that you’re all pushing in the same direction.
Start in the office. Display your company logo in strategic places. Infuse your office with personality, specificity, and purpose. Create a brand culture, and productivity will soar – at Christmas, at Easter, all year round.