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Why your productivity slumps in the winter

More than half of British workers get significantly less work done in winter, and new research has revealed precisely why that might be.

Rainy days, gloomy workplaces and illness are to blame for Britain’s winter slump, as is the office temperature, naughty snacks and treats and doing less exercise.

Industry body, British Summer Fruits, has explored how the different seasons affect workplace productivity and brain function. The findings were in line with a recent neuroscience study conducted in Belgium, which revealed brain activity may follow a similar pattern to the Seasonal Affective Disorder, or ‘winter blues’.

Laurence Olins, Chairman from British Summer Fruits, said: “There are several factors which contribute to workers feeling less productive and research suggests the change in seasons plays its part.

“More employers could encourage their staff to adopt a healthier diet, providing greater access to fruit in the office to prevent people reaching for sugary confectionery, particularly in these cold winter months.

“Eating healthily shouldn’t feel like a chore and snacking on fruits like berries can help with food cravings during the day due to their natural sweetness”.

During the colder months, 74 per cent of people find it harder to get out of bed for work and 37 per cent are far more likely to call in sick. For two out of every five days in winter, Brits claim to feel under the weather – and 81 per cent admit they often go into work when they are unwell.

Two thirds of people say they are also more likely to indulge in unhealthy options in the winter than in the summer – with snacks such as chocolate, biscuits, crisps and sweets readily available in the office.

But researchers have discovered that to feel 100 per cent productive during the winter months workers simply need to work six hours instead of eight, and have two breaks more than they would get during the summer months.

Flexible working hours, the opportunity to get fresh air during the day and access to really healthy foods are also conducive to a positive work environment.

Other factors which would increase productivity are reduced background noise, the option to work from home and access to water during the day.

Respondents also claim they would function better if they could get a good night’s sleep, exercise more during the day and have access to an open window.

The UK’s leading food psychologist behind Channel 4’s Secret Eaters, Dr Christy Fergusson, commenting on behalf of British Summer Fruits said: “Relying on high sugar foods, biscuits and crisps to keep us going can leave us riding the blood sugar rollercoaster. We feel buzzed for a spell but soon our energy, concentration and mood can plummet.

“One of the best foods to snack on has to be berries. Not only are they loaded with antioxidants and highly nutritious, they are also low in sugar. You could say they are nature’s brain food. They pack a serious nutritional punch for every calorie consumed. This makes them the ideal way to supercharge your system with nutrients, without escalating your blood sugar levels.”

TOP 10 REASONS WORKERS ARE LESS PRODUCTIVE IN WINTER:

1. The darker/dimmer/gloomy light makes me feel sleepy / I find it hard to concentrate
2. If it is dark outside I just want to go home
3. The office is too cold / too hot to concentrate
4. I have lower energy levels in general
5. Dark or rainy days negatively affect my mood
6. I am more likely to feel ill
7. I exercise less so feel sluggish and lethargic when at work
8. My commute takes longer
9. There are more treats and snacks around which distracts me
10. The view from the window is less inspiring

jack.peat@swns.com'

Jack Peat

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