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9.6 million work days lost to winter blues

07 January 2014

9.6 million work days are lost each year as a result of employees suffering from the ‘winter blues’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder according to new research from Epson.

The survey of over 1,000 UK office workers, carried out by Opinium, finds that 20% of Brits admit to calling in sick because of the winter blues and, on average, those that do call in sick, take off four days a year because of the condition. 

The results highlighted the ways in which the winter months impact UK office workers, with 60% stating that it makes it harder to get out of bed. This was closely followed by decreased levels of motivation (59%), depression (58%) and greater susceptibility to illness (52%). These symptoms come in light of the finding that almost half (48%) of workers rarely or never see sunlight on the way to work during the winter months.

When asked what measures would improve the mood of employees in the office, a third (33%) of respondents stated better lighting. 27% of workers wanted a more colourful workspace and one in five (20%) would like to see more creative visuals and colourful presentations.

"From a business perspective, the opportunity of 2014 is there for the taking,” says Neil Colquhoun, director at Epson UK. "Companies have to remain competitive and start the year on a high – losing valuable manpower because of winter weather is not an option. Workers are calling out for simple steps, such as bringing more light and colour into the workplace. We understand the importance of colour quality and brightness and are developing our technology to deliver the most exciting visual content.”

Angela Wright, colour psychologist, comments: "Grey is always a favourite colour for office design – yet, the human instinct in a grey world is to hibernate – so the winter months are already a constant battle to fight the instinct to sleep. When the world turns grey, we know we could be in for a long winter and we naturally draw into ourselves – hoarding both resources and energy. Therefore, it’s no surprise that light and colour have come out on top as remedies for the winter blues; the quality of visual intake for busy, hardworking employees plays a crucial role in brightening up their days and keeping motivation levels high.”

Angela Wright’stop five tips to combat the winter blues:

• Build outdoor exercise into your weekly routine
• Customise the workplace: add pieces of art or project creative visuals for a more exciting corporate environment
• Introduce more plants and greenery into the office
• Liven up your meetings: include less text and more attention-grabbing, colourful imagery in presentation materials
• Ditch the email and focus on face-to-face communication and interaction with your colleagues