Do the Holidays Hinder Workplace Productivity

With shortened workweeks, holiday parties, gift shopping, hectic family schedules and employees traveling, it can feel like no work is getting done during this time of the year.

But although most of us will have more on our plates over the next few weeks, the holiday season — especially the week right before a holiday break — can actually mean greater productivity at work, according to a recent survey.

The survey, which polled more than 300 senior managers, found that 32 percent believed that employees were actually more productive during the holidays, and 44 percent noticed no difference in productivity levels.

One executive attributed this to many people working better under pressure.

“Although the results may seem surprising at first, it is evident that the need to stay focused and get as much work done as possible before [a holiday] break is a priority amongst many employees. To enjoy the season… it becomes greatly beneficial to put in that added effort during the work hours leading up to the break.”

Worried about how you’ll get all your work done with less time at the office? Here are a few tips for prioritizing.

Keep a calendar visible. Write down every holiday party, break and family obligation on a calendar, along with any important work deadlines, and keep it on your desk so you can easily determine your priorities and schedule.

Let clients and co-workers know your schedule. Give your clients and co-workers at least two weeks’ notice if you’ll be out of the office, so any requests they have won’t be last minute. When you’re away, set up an out-of-office email message, with instructions on who clients should contact with any urgent requests in your absence. And find out your clients’ schedule so you’re not working like mad to get a project done for them, only to find out that they’ve taken off on vacation.

Get enough rest. The late nights and/or cocktails that usually go hand-in-hand with holiday celebrations can spell disaster for your productivity at the office the next day. While one night of overdoing it won’t kill you, burning the midnight oil more than once a week will wreak havoc on your work efficiency.

Ask for help. If you feel like you have too much on your plate right before an event or break, ask your manager to help you prioritize. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands, offer a helping hand to a swamped colleague.

Work from home. As a last resort, if you really can’t seem to get your head above water before you leave for a holiday break, bring home a project that can be worked on while you’re out. Though it’s never fun to work on vacation, bringing some of your work home may actually help you relax while on your break, since you won’t be so stressed about what awaits at the office. Just be sure that your work doesn’t interfere with your holiday fun.

With coworkers taking time off to shop for gifts, travel and recover from entertaining their families, the workplace can feel like a ghost town during the holiday season. But for some people, this post-holiday time is just as busy as usual, if not more. How productive is your workplace at this time of year?

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