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Christmas shutdown: Pros and cons of closing the office for the festive period

From heightened productivity to burnt-out staff, e-procurement firm Wax Digital co-founder Daniel Ball breaks down the benefits and drawbacks of the annual Christmas shutdown

It’s safe to say most staff are in favour of having an extended amount of time off at the end of the year, but employers faced with a competitive business environment might be tempted to forgo the Christmas shutdown.

At a glance, it comes down to choosing between employee satisfaction and enhanced productivity – but there could be more to it than that.

Business owners may need to consider whether staying open between Christmas and New Year will actually increase their company’s output – if their employees are going to be overworked to the point of counter-productivity.

Meanwhile, there’s other benefits to keeping the lights on, such as getting ahead of your competitors that are at home swigging mulled wine and scoffing mince pies.

Daniel Ball, co-founder of e-procurement firm Wax Digital, breaks down both sides of the Christmas shutdown argument.

 

Why you should stay open over Christmas

Objectively speaking, Christmas is a challenging time for businesses on almost every level.

Companies that choose to close their doors for the holidays can face enormous financial pressures, not only in the run-up to and during the festive season, but in its aftermath as well.

Think about it: at what other time of the year would a company justify downing tools for as long a period?

Sure, most other businesses are closed, and customers may not be as active, but there’s still the risk of a drop in sales, enquiries, production and overall business momentum, which could have a major impact on your bottom line in the new year.

And the festive period isn’t just limited to the week surrounding Christmas.

christmas shutdown
Wax Digital co-founder Daniel Ball

From as early as November, businesses need to start preparing for the annual yuletide closedown, which can prove a costly distraction in terms of productivity and employee impetus.

Its impact can also be felt in the New Year, with a drop in staff morale and the pinch of poor January trading making for lacklustre business conditions.

So, from a purely objective standpoint, the Christmas shutdown has the potential to do more harm than good.

Surely, then, it would be better to stay open between Christmas and New Year? Giving businesses extra time to secure custom and finalise projects ahead of the New Year.

 

Getting a step ahead by working over Christmas

Business productivity is one of the biggest advantages of staying open over the Christmas holiday.

With no hard deadlines or extra preparation to attend to, businesses can continue to focus on their primary objectives, with no distractions or unnecessary tasks that could stifle company momentum.

And, while I’m still on the advantages of staying open over Christmas, there’s also the matter of extra sales and the potential to gain a head-start on competitors going into the New Year.

With other businesses closed, those that remain open can reap the rewards of additional custom – putting them in a strong position as they head into the formative January trading period.

 

The benefits of a Christmas shutdown

There are, of course, a lot of disadvantages to staying open between Christmas and New Year – and these mainly come when you factor employees into the equation.

If asked, I’d wager that a vast majority of people would choose not to work over the Christmas holidays, and it’s this reluctance that business owners need to bear in mind when deciding whether to open their doors or not.

From November onward, productivity can slump in almost every workplace, as staff look ahead to the Christmas wind-down and become more and more distracted by the festivities of the season.

chirstmas shutdown
Credit: NBC

This drop in productivity can be difficult to manage and address, as it can be something that’s experienced throughout the company hierarchy.

 

Christmas shutdown helps business owners as well as staff

Productivity isn’t the only disadvantage of Christmas opening hours; being open unnecessarily, without much prospect of recouping the expenses associated with staff wages and operational costs, can present an unwanted financial drain at this time of year – so it’s absolutely vital that business owners do their sums when deciding whether to stay open over Christmas.

And then, of course, there’s the personal impact of not taking the time off to spend with family and friends at Christmas time.

Business owners who choose to work through the holidays run the risk of burning out before the New Year, and may have little to show for a lot of sacrifices and compromise.

To conclude then: while staying open over Christmas undoubtedly has its advantages for businesses in specific sectors, the impact this could have on the productivity and morale of your workforce may offset any short-term financial successes you achieve.