You know the vibe of a workplace in the holiday season. It's an empty vibe, in more ways than one.
Colleagues are away. The fiscal year is all but over. Sales calls may as well wait till early January, when new budgets beg for bursting. At some point in mid-December, there's often a holiday party of some sort, a great excuse for a half-day of accomplishing next to nothing if ever there were.
All of which is why late November and December are an ideal time time to show up at the office--and get actual work done. Here are five reasons why:
1. You'll be more prepared for year-end reviews.
Though it's now commonly understood that once-a-year employee-performance reviews are, to paraphrase Woody Allen, a travesty of a sham of a mockery, they are still a reality in many workplaces. What happens, more often than not, is the employee is caught unprepared by sweeping, overarching questions about the year's best and worst vocational moments. Who thinks that way, in any form of emotional reality?
Well, you can--if you put your mind to it. It will take time--going through your emails and thinking through self-indulgent questions like what your "accomplishments" have been. But if you spend a few hours a week gathering your year-end thoughts--starting in November--you'll have something substantive to say to your reviewer. And evidence to back it up with.
2. You'll get a jumpstart on 2016.
In every workplace, there are long-term projects and tasks on which the clock will start once the calendar flips to January. You might, for instance, be part of a new project-management team. If you can meet with team just once in November or December, you'll have broken some ice and fostered some early chemistry.
3. You'll win points just for showing up.
Year-end vacations are a standard practice for many employees. But by working instead, you'll earn tacit points with your colleagues for just showing up at a time when it's easy to be absent. Like it or not, managers and colleagues still judge your performance by "face time"--how much time they actually see you working in the office.
That might not seem fair, in an era of virtual employment. But it's the truth, according to a study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. "Managers were 9 percent more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits 'dependable' and 'responsible' to people who put in expected face time and 25 percent more likely to unconsciously attribute the traits 'committed' and 'dedicated' to people who put in extracurricular face time," note the authors.
4. You'll have less of that "vacation stress" than those lucky enough to travel seldom mention.
When you're going on vacation, you're fortunate. You know it. So do all your friends. But the all-around gratitude masks an undeniable reality about traveling: It can create major stress in your work week, leading up to your departure, planning how the organization will handle things in your absence.
"Who among us hasn't said at some point, usually the day before we leave, 'Trying to take this vacation is so stressful, it would have been better not to go at all!' notes Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time management coach, in the Harvard Business Review.
The point is, as enjoyable as vacations can be, they often create stressful disruptions to the ordinary flow of your life. If you work through the holidays, you'll be able to remain in your ordinary flow. And that's a silver lining.
5. You'll have more casual downtime at work.
That's because in December, many of the, ahem, managerial types--the ones whose presence keeps everyone's heads down at their desks--are out of town. As Harvard Business School's Ethan Bernstein has pointed out in his research on workplace transparency, it's hard to be your smoothest or smartest self when you know you're being watched--and possibly evaluated--at every moment.
Even if you work with personable managers--kind leaders who don't make you feel as if every interaction is cause for judgment--there's nothing quite like the feeling of a workplace where they're all gone for the day. You finally get a chance to chat, at length, with colleagues you've been too busy to sit with all year long. You finally get a chance to walk a few extra blocks to the lunch place you've always wanted to try. It's the sort of office fun--and camaraderie--only the holidays can bring.
So don't feel bad if you're among the seeming few who are continuing to toil at their cubicles this holiday season. The toil won't be the grind you've come to expect. And even if it is, you'll have earned points with management for showing your face and sticking it out.