With the coming of Fall, grey and gloomy skies can permeate our perception of our surroundings. The darker days and colder temperatures can sap energy and cause a multitude of productivity issues at work. At worst, these seasonal changes can make it difficult or impossible for people to get into the proper mental and emotional state to be able to do what they need to do.
This is what we call the seasonal productivity dip — the times of the year when, due to energy or motivation, your effectiveness is not where you think it should (or could) be.
This phenomenon is well-studied: according to the Cleveland Clinic, half a million US citizens suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder every winter. Almost a fifth of people can suffer from something called the winter blues, which is less severe than Seasonal Affective Disorder but can still tank productivity and happiness. These issues can have a direct financial impact on any business—imagine one-fifth of your employees suddenly becoming more irritable and lethargic. Imagine that 20% having to take personal days to get themselves back on track. How does that affect your business?
Today we’ll be talking about what your business can do to ensure that your workers are as happy and comfortable as possible, even when there’s no sun to be seen.
Turn up the lights
One of the biggest causes of SAD and any other productivity problems that arise when the weather gets cold is the lack of natural light that a person is exposed to on a regular basis.
Because of this, you need to make sure to let the sun into your work environment whenever you can. Don’t waste any rays of sunlight that the winter provides you with, open up the blinds and soak them up. However, winter often isn’t very cooperative when it comes to sunlight. Sometimes the clouds arrive and they overstay their welcome. In times like this, you’re going to have to substitute natural light with artificial light. There is probably a good number of people at your workplace who find it difficult to work during cold weather and dark days. The best thing to do is to keep the lights bright and cheery to help them get through the day.
Develop a routine that everyone can get behind
The winter blues can be avoided by creating a workplace routine that all employees enjoy and will take their minds off the weather. A positive routine that reduces stress can help your entire workforce—for example, if your business isn’t directly customer-facing, you can do something as simple as relaxing dress codes for the season so that employees can wear more comfortable clothing. It can take away pressure from those who get stressed out by choosing their work clothes, and give more options for those those who enjoy getting dressed up. If your employees are open to the idea, something like a pre-shift yoga class or meditation session can do wonders for their focus and make them both physically and mentally healthier. What matters is that you start everyone’s day off on the right foot. Be creative and accept feedback from your workers!
Keep temperatures at a comfortable level
One of the biggest productivity killers during seasonal changes is temperature changes. Going from summer heat to fall chills can sap people’s energy surprisingly quickly. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information on temperatures in the workplace. In a study by researchers from the Helsinki University of Technology, workplace performance was found to increase with temperatures up to 69.8 degrees and 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, with peak productivity at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
The caveat? If your HVAC system is improperly sized or poorly maintained, then it becomes difficult for it to maintain this consistent, comfortable level. Your best bet is to get a properly-sized and specced HVAC system with regular maintenance conducted by a professional HVAC company to ensure that your system can handle the demands of the changing seasons.
An HVAC system is a vital part of your employees’ comfort during the transition from summer to fall to winter to spring. If you have any concerns about your system’s ability to keep you comfortable, we at Level One HVAC are here to help! Give us a call at (248) 486-6500 if you’d like to know more. If you don’t have time to call, you can fill in our online contact form and someone from our staff will be in touch with you shortly.