When the weather starts to get cold and the days grow shorter, it's easy for energy in the office to decline. But the end of the year is a critical period for your team members to pull together and turn out their best work, so it's time to employ a few tried-and-true tricks to inspire a strong push through the weeks ahead.

Below, six entrepreneurs discuss their best strategies for inspiring strong morale and productivity during the winter season.

Plan fun winter activities.

"Long winter days can be dreary, so having something to look forward to at the office is key," says Kim Kaupe, co-founder of entertainment agency ZinePak. If energy in your office starts to wane, it's time to add a bit of fresh excitement to everyone's day.

"During the winter months, we -- along with our office space, WeWork -- create fun activities to look forward to. From hot chocolate making to s'mores, having small pick-me-up activities during the week can bring an added spark of fun to your team. Winter snacks can be a quick way to everyone's heart," Kaupe says.

Offer remote work agreements.

Sometimes the hardest part of cold winter days is bracing to leave the house and head into the office each morning. Allowing employees to work from home can eliminate that frigid walk or icy drive and let employees know you want them to feel comfortable.

"I live in Canada so I know cold, short days, and having a remote work agreement is easily one of the best decisions we've made as a business," notes Liam Martin, co-founder of productivity tools Staff.com and TimeDoctor.com. "Building a remote work agreement has allowed for employees to work where they want, when they want, which is particularly important when there are three feet of snow outside -- or if you want to work from a warm tropical island and forget winter."

Host a winter retreat.

Those chilly, dark days can be the perfect time to bring your team together in order to strengthen connections and hit refresh on productivity. That's why Peter Daisyme, special adviser for collaborative scheduling tool Calendar, makes time in the winter for a company retreat.

"We do a quick retreat that includes families and pets for a cabin-style getaway. During that time, we brainstorm and plan for the coming year," he says. "It gets people in the right frame of mind to continue through the months ahead."

Shorten the work day.

"None of us like driving home from work in the dark, so we decided to use daylight savings time to shorten our work day," says Cynthia Johnson, co-founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Bell + Ivy. If leaving the house in the morning cold isn't the hardest part of the day, driving home after the sun goes down might be.

"Employees can continue working at home if they need to or just bank the time to get other things done. It's worked out very well in keeping productivity up," Johnson notes.

Stock healthy food in the office fridge.

The holiday season often means overindulging in the food department, but that rarely leads to high energy and productivity. So, Bryce Welker, founder and CEO of CPA review site Beat The CPA, helps employees feel their best through the winter by encouraging healthier diet choices at work.

"With the pressures that come with the end of the year, and the changes in weather and sunlight that accompany the shifting of the seasons, the health of your employees can be negatively affected," he says. "I've found that offering complimentary food that is high in essential nutrients can help keep employees happy. I like to keep Vitamin D-enriched yogurt in the breakroom fridge during the winter."

Remember, winter weather has benefits of its own.

The transition into winter doesn't have to mean a productivity slowdown. Ryan Wilson, CEO of marketing firm FiveFifty, makes the most of the season by focusing on the upside.

Wilson says: "Winter brings much more than cold weather and shorter days. I encourage my team to lean into winter and find the positives. This can mean hot chocolate, branded winter gear (like fun knit caps), and even company-wide ski trips. No matter how successful your business becomes, you cannot control the weather. So, show your team that it will take more than cold weather to curtail your company culture."

Published on: Nov 27, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.