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3 Steps to Surviving Christmas in the Office

Towards mid-December, office work starts to drag, people are looking forward to the Christmas party, worrying about last minute gift shopping and preparing for the big day. Generally, productivity and employee well being are highly volatile.

Below Michel Spruijt, General Manager EMEA at Ergotron, provides insight into surviving the festive period in the office.

UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, recently spoke out about small steps employers can take to maintain the health and wellbeing of their staff and ease the pressure on the NHS. In addition to the provision of increased counselling services, Hancock’s recommendations focused primarily around increased movement throughout the working day and a healthier diet. Not rocket science, you may argue, but as the nights continue to draw in, and Christmas holidays loom ever larger on the horizon, many businesses find employees struggle to remain as productive and motivated as they are during the rest of the year.

Let’s face it, being stuck in an office during days that rarely get light, combined with the potential after effects of festive activity the night before, makes it hardly surprising that December can feel like a slog! So, how to improve matters? Well, while we can’t do anything about what mother nature throws at us in terms of weather, there are some simple steps we can take to help employees remain as happy and productive as possible during the last month of the year.

Here are three key steps businesses can take to improve employee wellbeing, productivity and presenteeism over the winter period:

1. Get office active

It’s an accepted truth that sitting all day at a desk harms productivity and hampers employee wellness. But it doesn’t have to be that way; small changes within the workplace can reap significant results. Take a look at your office environment: how are the desks laid out? Does this layout encourage movement between employees? Does it encourage people to get up and talk? Yet a simple change to the desk layout could mean the difference between employees getting up to talk about a particular project, rather than emailing each other, or holding a standing or walking meeting, rather than sitting around a table dragging a meeting out for longer than it needs.

How do people get to and from work? Could your firm offer incentives for walking or cycling to work rather than driving? Or for using the stairs instead of the lift?

The shift to sit-stand workstations has gained great momentum in recent years as employers have recognised the productivity gains that come from providing employees with a sit-stand option. Indeed, Hancock himself advocated the use of standing desks as part of a campaign to increase exercise levels at work. And employees are loving making the move to sit-stand workstations; according to the Workstation Impact Assessment Survey, 94% of sit-stand users report being equally or more motivated to use their workstation now than when they began! Given December is the month when employees typically feel least healthy and most lethargic, taking the simple step of moving away from a pure seated office environment can therefore drive huge advantages in productivity and morale.

How do people get to and from work? Could your firm offer incentives for walking or cycling to work rather than driving? Or for using the stairs instead of the lift?

2. Eat healthy

As the sun stubbornly refuses to appear in the gloom of December, our body’s supply of vitamin D diminishes and with many illnesses correlated with low vitamin D levels, particularly depression, we have to find other ways to compensate for that deficiency. So, the responsible and savvy employer can invest in people welfare by making sure that food rich in Vitamin D (as well as other vitamins) are delivered to the office every day. Fruits and nuts are a good example of winter-boosting nourishment, and if you don’t have an office manager in place to help with this, there are a myriad of companies who will now deliver fresh fruit to you daily.

3. Flex the working day

Let’s face it, December is party season. Trying to ignore this fact is akin to King Canute trying to hold back the tide. So, accept it and treat your people like adults; if it is the office or team Christmas party the night before, suggest to people they can work to flexible hours the next day. Do so, and they appreciate the gesture. They may also get an extra hour in bed which makes them more productive the next day. Likewise, if they have an event to go to with a customer or supplier, let them flex their hours to ensure that they are not coming into the office tired and fit for nothing the next day.

If it is the office or team Christmas party the night before, suggest to people they can work to flexible hours the next day.

The festive period is a fun time of the year; there are lots of things to celebrate and it’s a time for companies to ensure their teams and culture really can shine. But it’s also a time of year when, if you are not careful, productivity can plummet and you can be faced with a challenging commercial performance for the month as a result! Taking the three simple steps above might just help you make the most of the month through and will certainly improve your employees ability to cope with all the challenges that December throws at them!

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