HR & Management

Jack Frost keeps us in the office for longer

5 min read

04 January 2013

Good news for employers: the winter months increase working hours.

Employees find themselves at a bleak cross road during the winter months. To go outside, or not to go outside? Who dares to challenge the wrath of the icy wind deities for lunch or cigarette breaks? Not many. Most end up maximising the time spent at their desks.

These cold months have caused office workers to spend more than half an hour longer behind their desks each day. Face it, who wants to go outside in the chilly wind and non-stop rain we’ve been getting? This is good news for companies intending to start the year with a ton of ambitious work. Chances are that employees have already finished previous jobs and will be completing new tasks sooner than you think.

Officebroker conducted a survey, finding that the average office worker spends an additional 38 minutes at work each day during the winter months. This equates to more than three hours a week, or an over-eager 12 hours per month. All thanks to the wonderful British weather.

Four specific reasons respondents chose to work for longer hours emerged.

Even with jackets, gloves and wooly scarves, the cold always seems to seep in one way or the other. A few more hours of work means staying out of the cold (58 per cent). Who could blame them? You wait for the last possible second to rush for the train in the hopes you don’t have to stand outside, or remember that your car (most likely an ice-cube, inside and out) needs defrosting before you go home.

There’s rain and fog to contend with, not to mention ice on the road. Rush hour has just become that much slower. So, why not avoid the troublesome rush hour and chalk extended working hours to your being a praiseworthy employee (41 per cent).

The new year is all about making changes, improvements and resolutions. What better way to ensure your festive celebrations won’t include thoughts of work (38 per cent). You go to work fresh from partying, having ensured that all work was completed prior to Christmas break.

Impressing ahead of an end of year appraisal (22 per cent) is an admirable reason, and good way to show how productive you are. However, remember that others are now working longer hours too, only wanting to stay out of the cold!

Are these long hours really helping the company though?

Picture this, a knight in shining armour rushes into the dragons cave through sleet and snow to daringly kill the beast. 

A) Is he doing his deed? The king receives an abundance of treasure and a trusted employee;
B) Running away from the weather in the process? Not only does the king get his treasure, but staying a few hours longer in the cave stops the employee’s armour rusting; or
C) Just killing time? The knight rushes in, sword drawn and ready for work, but ends up having tea with the dragon.

Although employers may applaud their employees working longer hours, 71 per cent of employees say they felt their productivity drop as soon as it became dark outside. In essence, putting in the hours, but not doing the work.

A spokesman from Officebroker says employers, keen to get the most out of employees before Christmas, have mixed emotions regarding these results.

“Winter weather is causing employees across the UK to spend more time at work each day – which sounds great, particularly if it helps businesses achieve their end of year targets. However, delve a little deeper and the thought process appears to be centred around what is best for the employee rather than the employer,” he said.

“Whether it be to keep utility costs down, avoid winter traffic, stay out of the cold or impress ahead of an end of year appraisal, most workers were found to be putting in the extra time to benefit themselves. People may be staying longer at work in the evening, however due to energy levels dropping after dark it could make little difference to overall productivity.”

Whether or not employees actually spend their time completing all the work set before them, employers have Jack Frost to thank for the longer office hours.