"Winterizing" the Workplace

By: Lauren Mineau

We prepare our cars and homes for winter, but what about our workplace environment? Winter, especially after the holidays, can be a tough time for workplaces. People are stuck inside, sunlight is in short supply and employees are more likely to be sick.

There are many things that can be done to brighten up the office until spring comes around. Consider these tips to increase productivity and keep the gloom and doom out.

Prioritize Health

Germs run rampant in the winter months. It may be a good idea for HR to distribute a refresher of the office’s sick leave policy. People may continue to come to work and try to get through a cold or cough, but bringing germs to work is a health issue for all. The sick person is not getting needed rest and their presence in the office puts everyone else at risk.

Bring a Challenge

If the nature of the company allows, consider delving into a big project to get something done that may have been pushed off around the holidays when people were busy. Something new that requires focus and collaboration may help keep spirits up. This time of year could also be a good opportunity for some continuing education or refresher courses.

Shed Some Light

The lack of outside light can have a negative impact on people’s attitude, especially if they spend most of the daylight hours in the office. Outfitting employees with lamps issued by doctors to treat SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is likely too expensive, but take a look and make sure there is enough light from other sources. Something as simple looking out a window while working or on breaks can be extremely helpful.

Cheers!

Consider starting a group drink order or club. A warm cup of coffee or tea can brighten someone’s day and encourage socializing among colleagues. If it becomes a routine, people have something to look forward to at work as well. If the office isn’t close enough to a coffee shop, try setting up a station in the office with rotating drink selections.

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes a simple change of location can help productivity and attitude in one fell swoop. Allow employees to work in a communal space, a coffee shop or other suitable location. Sometimes where one sits can shake things up and invigorate idea flow and productivity. If your office is in a snowy climate, that may mean allowing remote work on days of inclement weather. When people do not have to face a snowy commute they are likely to log on and get right to work.

With less daylight, brisk air and inches of snow, winter can seem like the longest season. Spring always comes though. Try to make the most of the season where being indoors is ideal. In only a few months, it’ll seem like a distant memory.