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Daylight Timings

Tips for keeping productivity up as daylight decreases

As we move into those cold, dark winter evenings that can appear to start earlier each day, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of becoming unproductive as the sun begins to set.

For some, the change in daylight can even cause a spiral of depression, lethargy, irritability, and a range of other symptoms. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and estimates predict that around 2 million Brits are affected by this disorder.

Daylight has a big impact on our productivity at work, and there is a provable link between decreased daylight hours and a reduction in productivity and effort. Naturally, our brains tend to think that as the daylight hours come to an end, it’s time to start thinking about bed – not exactly the frame of mind you want to be in at work.

Whether your business is based in-office, operating remotely, or working as a hybrid combination of the two, increasing productivity during this seasonal decline can be a challenge.

NerdWallet’s business finance expert, Connor Campbell, commented:

“When it comes to this time of the year, there may be a temptation to fall into a bit of a slump at around 4 o’clock when the sun starts to set. For business owners, this can be a real problem if they’re seeing a noticeable decline in their staff’s productivity throughout the winter months.

Winter can be a particularly busy time for some businesses, with preparations for Christmas-related campaigns, promotions, and other activities, so this lull in productivity can turn into a pretty big issue if not tackled efficiently.

It can be a real challenge for employees to power through the dark evenings, particularly those who may be suffering from conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder. So a bit of understanding goes a long way when dealing with this issue. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t anything that can be done to raise productivity during the decreased daylight hours.”

To help business owners increase their employees’ productivity during decreased daylight hours, Connor has shared the following tips:

  1. Invest in office lighting

When we think about the main thing we’re missing during the winter months, it has to be the sun. Of course, you can’t bring the sun indoors, but you can invest in desk-lamps and lightboxes to put around the office.

Not only do lightboxes give off ten times the amount of light that ordinary office lights do, creating a much lighter, brighter environment to work in – they can also be customised for branding or personalisation purposes – adding a bit of fun into the office space.

LED lighting is another great alternative to regular office lights. These tend to be brighter and emit a warmer light than regular light bulbs. They also have the added benefit of being far more energy efficient, making them more cost effective to run.

Lighting is a relatively quick and easy way to improve the mood within your office, and your employees may be appreciative of the extra measures you’ve taken.

  1. Schedule check-ins with remote staff

Whilst there may be a temptation to relax in the office when the conditions are gloomier, it may be even harder to resist when working remotely, surrounded by all of your home comforts.

One of the main ways to keep staff that are working from home invested in their job and working productively throughout the day is to schedule check-ins with them. Not only is this a great way to monitor the tasks they’ve been completing throughout the day, it’s also an opportunity for them to share any concerns or issues they may be having.

These check-ins don’t have to be daily, a weekly check-in will suffice to let your employees know that their time is valued and their wellbeing is taken into account.

Working remotely can be isolating for some, and those with Seasonal Affective Disorder are even more prone to feeling socially isolated. So any attention you can spare for your remote employees could help them push through the dark evenings.

  1. Provide healthy snacks

Whether your office has a designated canteen area, or you just put out a fruit bowl on one of the desks, giving your employees the option of a healthy pick-me-up is an easy way to boost productivity – particularly when the days are bleak and common-colds are running rampant in the office.

There is a proven link between healthy eating and the release of endorphins that improve your mood, so putting out healthy granola bars, different types of fruits, and providing your employees with a water station is a great way to keep energy levels high.

  1. Regular short breaks

Even if it’s just an opportunity to stand up and walk quickly around the office to stretch their legs, providing your staff with more regular short breaks throughout the day will help them retain their focus.

Exercise is crucial for those who are experiencing slumps in their mood, and this is particularly true for those who spend most of their working day sitting behind a desk. Even a 5 minute break every couple of hours can make a huge difference to your employees’ moods and attitudes towards work.

This also gives staff the chance to enjoy the sun whilst it’s still there, maximising their enjoyment of the daylight.

  1. Interactive activities

The reduced daylight hours can give a feeling of coldness to the office environment, even if it doesn’t physically feel that way. However, getting employees involved in interactive activities once a fortnight can make the office a more enjoyable space throughout the winter season.

This can be in the form of friendly workplace performance-based competitions, pop quizzes, or, as we get towards the holiday period, Christmas-themed activities that bring the team together.

If your budget allows, you could take your team out for a teamwork-building experience to really keep those workplace relationships strong.

Socialisation is a huge factor of office working, and the sense of community that comes from being in an office environment is required more than ever during a time when many employees are likely to be affected by the decrease in daylight and a drop in temperature.

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