Overall productivity only drops about 5% this time of year, according to a new survey, and industries like hospitality and media are even 25% busier over the holidays.
So much for Christmas break. Turns out, the holiday hustle is the most productive time of year for many employees still clocking in during the last week of December.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, the founder and CEO of the Mavens & Moguls marketing consulting firm, will be checking emails, organizing paperwork and dialing into conference calls from her home office every day this week, including a few hours on Christmas Day. And she’s already got a meeting scheduled for the 26th.
“I think it’s a luxury to work this time of year,” she told Moneyish. “I can get twice as much done because the phone stops ringing, except for scheduled calls, and there are fewer distracting emails cluttering up the inbox.”
She also plans to get a jump start on the new year, such a gathering business receipts ahead of tax season. “It’s a great time to play catch-up and do strategic planning when you’re not as distracted with the day-to-day noise,” Arnof-Fenn said.
Employees at Profiles, a boutique PR firm in Baltimore, are also busier than ever in late December.
“We work when the media works, and the media is always working,” president Amy Burke Friedman told Moneyish. “And we have a lot of clients with stories to tell over the holidays, such as restaurants and hotels opening and offering packages, or prix fixe dinners and New Year’s brunches.”
They will be closed on Dec. 25th and Jan. 1, but everyone’s coming in on the days in between to work on year-end reports for clients. They’ve even scheduled specific times for cleaning desks and sorting emails to get organized for 2018. “We’re pretty busy … but the phones aren’t ringing as much, so there’s a lot less distraction, and now we can focus and really take the time to keep our heads down and do what we need to do,” she said
Getting the day off for Christmas – let alone the entire week – is wishful thinking for workers in many industries. File sharing service Egnyte analyzed more than 3 billion activities from thousands of businesses worldwide last year to see whether work slowed around the holidays — and found that overall business productivity only dropped 5% between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. In fact, productivity even increased 25% in business services, healthcare, education, media and entertainment.
That’s because most offices (84%) will remain open during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day this year, and less than 1% are closing early, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2017 Holiday Schedules Survey. But 57% of respondents said their companies sweeten the deal by offering some kind of overtime pay for working on a holiday when the organization would normally be closed.
It’s also the season for performers and hospitality workers to make bank before the winter months freeze foot traffic. Singer and pianist Alissa Musto is booked every day for the next two weeks except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, although she’s worked on many Christmases past.
“Everyone that works as a musician or in the hotel or restaurant industry knows that you’re likely gonna have to work during those holidays,” she told Moneyish. “January and February are really tough for the service industry, because people realize they spent way too much around Christmas, and they stop going out. So you’ve got to make your money over the holidays. I would say I make around $2,000 a week in December, especially playing holiday parties, but in January, I’m lucky if I make even half that.”
Kevin Spina, general manager of a new restaurant opening in Manhattan next year with more than 17 years in the service industry under his belt, has always worked the holidays – including New Year’s Eve in a Times Square pub. “It was mandatory for every single staffer to work New Year’s Eve there, because that’s where the entire world is watching the ball drop,” he said. But on the plus-side, “you get time-and-a-half for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, which is great. And especially on Christmas, people are more generous with their tips, realizing that you’re working today.”
Still other workers note that volunteering to take one for the team to come in over the holidays pays off in other ways. Jessica Gillespie, a publicist in Chicago, gets to roll over the vacation days she’s not using for Christmas to take a trip to “someplace sunny and warm” next year.
Plus, her employer is letting her work from home. “I have friends who are also going to be working remotely, so we’ll probably get together with our laptops at a cafe to get some work done and get some collaborative ideas going,” she told Moneyish. “I’m actually looking forward to it.”
Nate Masterson, an HR director at Maple Holistics in New Jersey, expects to earn some capital with his company for manning the office over the holidays. “I am, after all, the guy who came in on Christmas week, did a good job and took it in stride,” he told Moneyish. “This earns me some points of merit, and it never hurts.”
This story was originally published on Dec. 20, 2017.
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