How to Survive Being Stuck at Work Over the Christmas Holidays
Are you one of the few people in your office who has to work over the holidays while everyone else gets to spend Christmas at home? These days it seems that more and more businesses are staying open over the Christmas holidays from December 26th to January 2nd. And that means that more and more people will be stuck at the office when they’d rather be with friends and family.
If you’re one of those people, whether you volunteered for the lonely shifts or your job is such that you have to be at work in case of an emergency, there are some things you can to make the most of your time at the office.
Try to look on the bright side. If your boss is a normal human being, he’ll appreciate the fact that you are working while everyone else has taken time off. You may not get a direct raise or cash bonus just for working over Christmas, but chances are your boss will remember how you took one for the team, in this case the company, so that other could take time off and customers could still be served.
Here are some other benefits of working between Christmas and New Year’s include:
- Getting to and from work over the holidays should be a little bit easier. There won’t be as many cars on the road or people squeezing onto the bus each day. Let’s face it, one of the most common stressers about work is having to deal with a chaotic commute during regular work days.
- Fewer meetings means you can focus on bigger projects with greater intensity and concentration.
- You’ll have greater access to shared resources (i.e.; copiers, printers, specialized office equipment). No more line-ups behind the copy machine!
- You’ll stand out! It’s hard not to notice you if you're only one of three people in the office. This increased visibility can be good for your career.
- There's less competition for your supervisor’s time. If your boss is in the office over the Christmas break, now's a great time to schedule a few meetings to review your progress, discuss your pay and benefits, or present your new ideas for an upcoming project.
- You’ll have more time to learn from mentors or shadow other staff that you admire (with their permission of course).
- You won’t have to deal with the back to work, post holiday blues. Unlike your co-workers who will have to adjust to coming back to work over the holidays, you’ll be one step ahead. Imagine not having to spend the entire first day after the Christmas break going through all the email and voice mail messages that would have piled up while you were away.
Here are some other things you can do to boost your office productivity after everyone else has gone home for the holidays:
Create your to-do list. The first thing you’ll need to do to make sure that you're productive while everyone else is away is to make a to-do list of all the things that you never seem to have enough time to do. Take advantage of the quiet ‘downtime’ in the office to tackle some of those projects you’ve been wanting to start.
Start a committee. Create a committee to tackle a challenge that no one seems to have the time to deal with. Does your office always talk about wanting to be greener? Set up a committee to investigate how to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Or how about starting a Toastmasters Club for all those folks who want to become better communicators? Has anyone taken the lead on planning the office holiday party yet? Why not volunteer to take on that task?
Move around. Try working in different spaces around the office. Are there empty desks you can try out? What about common areas with couches and chairs and more comfortable furnishings? Try stretching out in the boardroom and enjoy all that uncluttered tabletop space to spread out and get creative. Sometimes just moving to a new work space for awhile can boost your creativity and expand your perspective. Note: Avoid using other people’s office space without their permission. Be mindful of personal boundaries and stick to working in neutral, common areas.
Put on some fun music. Now that you are on your own at work over the holidays, why not crank up your favorite tunes over the office PA system. Dance around a bit if you like! There’s hardly anyone around to see you being playful and free so why not just have fun with it!
Boost your credentials. Take an online course to upgrade your skills and credentials. Talk to your supervisor about your plans and explain that the Christmas break would be a great time for you to upgrade your skills. If your boss hesitates to say yes, remind him that by taking an online course, you'll still be maintaining an essential presence in the office.
Catch up on your reading. (But not your personal reading!) Are there business-related books that you’ve always wanted to read but never had time to start? Summer is a great time to catch up on the latest trends in your industry. You could even gather a few co-workers together to start a book club or reading group. Choose a book that will help you develop a specific skill or aptitude and meet once a week to discuss what you're learning. Motivational books such as “The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” make great office reading club material.
Re-decorate. Why not spend an afternoon giving your office walls a fresh lick of paint? You’ll have more space to move your furniture around. It's always easier to de-clutter your office and get organized when there aren’t as many people taking space up around you. It’s always nice to head into the New Year with a fresh perspective.
Bring your pets or kids to work for the day. If it's OK with your supervisor and/or your co-workers who are stuck in the office over the holidays too, ask if you can bring your dog to the office. Bringing a well-socialized pet to the office can help boost morale, encourage creativity, and fend off loneliness when you're flying solo at work. If you're the parent of a tween or teenager, the slow summer months would be a great time to bring them into the office and show them what you do. Are there a few organizing tasks that they can help you with? If the project is big enough, your boss may even be willing to offer a stipend to your kid for a few hours of work each week. At the very least, your child will have work experience to add to their resume.
Organize an office potluck. Now is a good time to get to know some of the people you work with every day but rarely have time to socialize with during the busy season. Chances are that the people who are also stuck in the office over the summer would appreciate a little fun and excitement in their workday, too.
Just because most of your co-workers are on holidays and you're one of the few people stuck in the office, that doesn't mean your job has to be boring, lonely, or unproductive. In fact, downtime at the office is a great opportunity to break out of your routine, get to know a few new co-workers, and catch the attention of your manager.
© 2016 Sally Hayes