Top-Shelf Tip No. 239:

"May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility."

Mary Anne Radmacher

How To Stay Productive Even Though It’s The Holidays

The holiday season in just around the corner, and you know what that means for business—distractions. Between company gatherings, team parties, upcoming vacations and erratic work schedules, it's hard to keep the office productivity high during this time.

In her recent post, business blogger Kayla Matthews shares these tips to keep expectations realistic and the quality of work at a high level all month long.

Map out holiday vacation time in advance. Many employees save up their vacation time until the end of the year, hoping to spend one or more weeks at home with their families, or traveling to meet loved ones. As a business leader, this can be a challenge in ensuring the work continues, customer orders are filled and that the office doesn't turn into a ghost town.

Matthews suggests that before the holiday season gets into full swing, make it clear that you expect a certain number of team members to be present each day that your office is open. This sets up expectations upfront and alerts everyone to more efficiently make decisions on how and when they can use vacation or personal days. In the end, everyone can get a little time off without the company suffering.

Be cautious about allowing work-from-home options. Unless a worker is normally allowed work-from-home options, be careful about granting this privilege during the holidays. The problem is that if the employee doesn't usually work remotely, he or she is likely to be distracted by other demands when working out of the house temporarily. You may seem like a Scrooge if you deny this option, but it's worth a little grumbling from team members to keep your customers happy. If you do allow this option, make sure all work-from-home individuals are monitored for productivity. They still need to get their daily tasks accomplished, be available to their colleagues during working hours, and so on.

Don't launch major corporate initiatives in November or December. The end of the year can be a bad time to launch any new initiatives unless they are related to the holiday season. Most employees can only focus with half their brains because of all their other personal commitments; this means your initiative will be difficult to get off the ground.

However, brainstorming during the holidays can be a fun activity toward next year's planning. Gather your thought leaders together for a discussion of what you can do in the coming year to ratchet up sales. This technique will also work to create more buy-in from employees who are preoccupied with other items.

Manage client expectations. Clients can be a huge source of stress during the holidays, but only if their expectations haven't been managed. Never promise—or allow your team members to promise—services or products that absolutely cannot be delivered due to the craziness of November and December. A customer cannot argue if you have set up their anticipated delivery dates from the beginning. By being realistic, you will ensure that customers will still get a high level of service from your company.

Source: Kayla Matthews is a business blogger with a passion for green initiatives and workplace satisfaction. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter, or at her blog Productivity Theory to learn more about her.

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