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How to survive working over Christmas

How to survive working at Christmas

You drew the short straw and you are the festive season ‘cover’, so customers aren’t greeted by an icy dial tone. Or perhaps your job means someone has to be available in case of emergencies. Regardless, working during the Christmas and New Year period isn’t fun.

Still, there are some benefits. You’ll win brownie points with your boss and with most people away – colleagues and clients – working hours tend to be shorter and less pressured. It also means you can store up precious annual leave days for Chinese New Year, or holiday during a less busy (cheaper) time.

While everyone else is making merry, here are some tips to get the most out of working at Christmas.

Take advantage of the quiet
Fewer meetings, phone calls and email traffic will free you up to look at the bigger picture. That could mean you finally have the time, and concentration, to tackle that project you’ve been putting off. Or, use the office downtime to brainstorm new initiatives you’d like to start in 2018.

Year-end is typically also a time to reflect. Think about your job and whether you’ve achieved the goals you set for yourself this time last year – it may be time to draw up an action plan to actually meet those objectives.

Get some ‘me time’
Holiday season means less competition for your boss’ attention. If your manager is also in the office, use this time to arrange a meeting to talk about you: you may want to follow up on a few specific points raised during an annual performance appraisal; discuss your ideas for a forthcoming, or new, project; or raise the issue of pay and benefits if this hasn’t already been tackled. If you are going to bring up your salary, make sure you read our five negotiation no-nos.

Get proactive
If you have a pet project at work – or something has always bugged you – now is the perfect time to devise an action plan. When everyone is back from the Christmas break, volunteer to lead the project and raise your visibility.

For example, you could come up with a way to reduce your company’s environmental footprint by finding out how the office can recycle more. Always wanted to know what Darryn in strategy does? Organise some low-key learning sessions where people from different departments talk through an issue they face or innovation in their field, and people can ask questions – this can also boost morale and collaboration in the office.

Claim some space
You’ve got the whole office to yourself (almost). So why not take advantage? We’re not recommending you use other people’s office or desk without permission. But you can stretch out in common areas, for example, or take over the boardroom table. If you’re working on that big project you’ve been postponing (see our earlier points) you might appreciate an uncluttered space to spread out. Sometimes breaking out of a routine and moving to a new work space temporarily can get the creative juices going.

Take an online course
If you really are at a loose end, consider taking a short online course to boost your skills. You could improve your expertise in a specific area of your everyday work, or learn a new related skill. Even if you can’t spend money on a course, just using the time to read relevant articles or books can be helpful for long term career progression.

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