How to increase your workplace productivity in the winter months

BY Savoy Stewart

1st Nov 2023 Wellbeing

5 min read

How to increase your workplace productivity in the winter months
With winter months capable of having a negative impact on your workplace productivity, here’s how to stay focussed and boost your work ethic with some new features
As the winter blues creeps up on us, searches for seasonal affective disorder have increased by 500 per cent. For many, the idea of winter is associated with cosy nights, warm fires and hot chocolates, but for others, the idea of darker days, cold weather and staying inside can be daunting.
With the chillier months capable of having an impact on productivity, are there workplace  features that can help boost productivity whilst at work? To find out more, Savoy Stewart has teamed up with experts at Brainworks Neurotherapy and Hillary’s, to reveal how to increase productivity during the winter months.
Here are his top features to boost workplace productivity: 

1. A visually creative space 

Green office room with plants
Adding artwork that is personal to you to an office environment can be a great way to influence emotions such as happiness, and can also help to restore mental energy, as most office spaces are bland and lack "life" to their interior.
"The atmosphere of a workspace can have a huge impact on employees' motivation levels and commitment"
The atmosphere and aura of a workspace can also have a huge impact on an employee’s motivation levels and commitment. Incorporating colour and imagery can help to naturally heighten moods and encourage socialisation.
Nature imagery in particular has been found to help with workplace frustrations, whilst artwork from your favourite artists or even family members can bring a sense of connection. Small framed pieces, stickers, posters or photographs all add a fun element, and help remove the overbearing feeling of work pressure.

2. The science of strategic rest 

Man sitting back at his desk in front of an open laptop
Being in a work environment can often leave employee’s feeling under pressure and somewhat stressed, but simple actions such as taking breaks away from your office space can have huge benefits on your work day.
Studies have shown that regular breaks are great for boosting performance and energy levels, with research finding that taking mini-breaks throughout the work day can support wellbeing and increase productivity, even if it is a few minutes away from your desk.
This task is vital for refreshing the mind. Allowing yourself to relax and recharge, even for 10 minutes, can have more benefits to not just your own mental wellbeing but also your productivity outcome.

3. The productivity palette 

Yellow office room with comfy chair and plants
It’s believed that many of our decisions, moods, and behaviours are influenced by colour.  Given that white and grey are frequently used in offices, there are numerous other colours that can boost and raise employee productivity.
Utilising radiant hues that aren't often linked with the cold will help you optimise the brief periods of natural winter light while allowing the colour to affect your mind-set in a positive way. Sunny colours can be wonderful for warming up an office in the winter. 
"Sunny colours are wonderful for warming up an office in winter"
Yvonne Keal, on behalf of Hillary’s home store commented: “Light and airy pastel shades such as pinks, dusty yellow, lilacs and mint greens are great colours to incorporate into your office in winter as they promote calmness and can help release any built up tension in your work routine which still allows creative juices to flow. 
“Allow the colour to influence your mood and mind-set in a more positive way, whether you paint a whole area or add a pop of colour to your desk, bright colours are proven to activate serotonin levels inside the brain making you feel more energised.”

4. The power of plants 

Contemporary open plan office with plants
Adding greenery such as plants to an office can hold huge benefits for our working life, with reports suggesting that plants are capable of reducing stress and increasing productivity levels, they can also clean the air within an office and help filter out allergens. 
Two plants that are great for boosting productivity levels are Bamboo Palm, which is famous for its pollution reducing abilities, increasing easy breathing and can promote clear-thinking. Perfect for a long work day. Whilst the Golden Pothos has similar powers, it can also remove unfavourable smells, keeping your airways clean and leaving no room for distractions.
Trauma-informed stress and nervous system coach, Laura Fowler-Watts advised how to combat the winter blues during a work day:
“Be kind to yourself, winter is extremely tough so don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling low but choose to do things that make you feel good and enjoy when you can! Take 10 minutes a day to get all the feelings and emotions out, they need to be felt and processed, not suppressed. Reach out to someone, eat healthy, and get your body moving.
“If you are starting to get those stagnant feelings or you have found yourself procrastinating, then your body needs to move to get your blood flowing. But most importantly, make time for self-care, create a daily routine that will support not just your mind but also your body to keep it balanced.”
"It's important to remember that the office environment can have a significant impact on employee productivity," says Savoy. 
Here are some important areas to consider: 

Fostering an open office design 

Three people working together in an open-plan, well-lit office
Due to the necessity of spending extended periods of time in one location, the layout of your office is essential for promoting productivity and teamwork. Being close to natural light can increase productivity by 40% in employees and allowing an ‘open’ work space can be great for colleague engagement which offers a sense of connection and belonging.
James Roy, on behalf of Brainworks Neurotherapy comments: “Exposure to natural light  is essential for supporting your hormonal system, this is because the amount of light that enters your eyes during these times directly influences the production and regulation of hormones in your body, such as serotonin, melatonin and cortisol. These all play a critical role in mood and sleep patterns, and this effectiveness even extends to areas with cloudy weather, as the light can penetrate through clouds.”

Taming distractions 

A group of office workers laughing in front of a laptop
Reducing excessive noise and clutter can make a huge difference to your day to day productivity. Utilising ‘quiet spaces’, organising dedicated work areas and setting expectations will help beat feeling unmotivated. The common phrase ‘tidy space, tidy mind’ can be a great reminder for organisation and removing the feeling of being overwhelmed. 
Senior Product Manager, Yvonne Keal, at Hillary’s home store, spoke on combating distractions in your workspace: 
A cluttered physical space equals a cluttered mental space, so remove any unnecessary items from your office to maintain concentration. Dim lighting can also make you feel tired, unfocused and increase chances of headaches, therefore placing your desk perpendicular to a window is best for the most natural light.”
"Happy employees who get the sense of fulfilment and joy from their job, work harder and engage more"
Darren Best at Savoy Stewart commented on the importance of putting employees first: Employee satisfaction should be one of the top priorities of any business, but motivation levels occasionally wane as the seasons change. Happy employees who get the sense of fulfilment and joy from their job, work harder and engage more, this can often be impacted by their day-to-day setting.
“The productivity levels of an organisation are greatly influenced by its culture, and companies that place a high value on collaboration, a sense of community, and high-quality workspace are more likely to see improved performance and more devoted workers. Those who are working in enriched environments, decorated with art, colour or plants are known to have more of a successful outcome as these elements can create a calm but inspiring environment which improves both focus and wellbeing.”
Banner credit: Drazen Zigic
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
Loading up next...