Build the Perfect Winter Bunker

Photo of a wooden house in the middle of the winter season


It can be tough to feel productive during the winter months. The cold makes us want to build a cocoon out of blankets and binge watch great television. But author Andy Teach explains, “You have a job to do and you’re always expected to produce great results, no matter what time of year it is.” The ONE Thing tells us that when we need to get productive, we should build a “bunker” around our time blocks. Luckily, there are things we can do to stop the oh-so-cruel weather outside from freezing our chances of success.

First, we need to understand how the weather outdoors can influence our choices. Then we can make appropriate changes to our workspace that will make us ready to tackle cold winter months head on.

Bad Weather and Its Effect on Us

Turns out, we might just get a lot of work done from underneath those blankets. Although it may seem counterintuitive, productivity studies have found the bad weather outside makes us more likely to be productive.

Using four different types of experiments across Japan and the US, researchers looked at bad weather (specifically precipitation) and job performance on data entry, a task which requires attention to detail and can easily be affected by distractions. And they found that worker productivity is higher on bad weather days than good weather days.

When the weather is gorgeous, countless distractions outside beckon to us. Too often, we let things we’d rather be doing outside get in the way of our work. But when the weather is bad, and those fun outdoor activities aren’t an option, we can perform our professional tasks more effectively. Not only that, but researchers found that people tend actually prefer spending time at work when the weather is bad. As The Atlantic writer Bourree Lam sums it up succinctly, “When the weather’s bad outside, workers are more productive at their jobs inside.”

Just as productivity is affected by Mother Nature, so is our willingness to help others. In fact, researcher Michael Cunningham conducted experiments in which he found people’s consideration of others was affected by temperature, sunshine, and wind. Helpful attitudes were more abundant on bright, sunny days compared to cloudy ones. Amid summer heat, the research shows that generosity spikes during periods of cooler temperatures and stronger winds, while in winter it rises alongside warmer temperatures and lower winds. When the weather is at its worst, so is our willingness to help each other out. Plan to get buy-in from your peers accordingly.

Winterizing a Bunker

If bad weather is known to make us want to be more productive at our jobs, how can we ensure that our workspaces support us through these traditionally bad weather months?

Raise the Temperature

Many of us work in offices with a thermostat readings that roughly imitate Antarctica’s average summertime temperature. In contrast to the workplace norm of keeping temperatures hovering around freezing, the optimal temperature for productivity lies in a range between 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit.

In fact, research compiled from twenty-four different studies shows that our performance peaks right around 71 degrees. When it goes above or below that magic number, our productivity decreases.

If your workplace is anything like ours, chances are that offices with their own thermostats are highly coveted. It’s not easy to get control of those little mechanisms. That said, we can temperature-proof our bunkers by dressing for the weather indoors, not outside. If you tend to run cold, this may mean it’s time to invest in a work blanket, fleece, or pair of fingerless gloves. Consider purchasing a small space heater (just remember to turn it off when you aren’t there!). Or, if you tend to run hot, dress in layers that can be removed once you warm up.

Add a Pop of Color

Color can have an impact on our mood. It’s important in the wintertime, when we’re already prone to feeling drab, that we expose ourselves to colors that promote happier feelings.  

Understanding how colors impact us is a good place to start. Colors like green and blue tend to relax us. They are believed to improve efficiency, focus, and overall sense of wellbeing. Yellow is known to be a good workspace color for creative professionals, like writers, artists, and designers.

If it seems too extreme to run to the paint store for a wintertime boost, you can still spruce up your space without making a permanent change. Consider buying some solid wrapping paper or contact paper to decorate your space. If you’re in a cube with walls, you can temporarily hang up colorful posters or artwork to jumpstart your mood and productivity. Even pinning up colorful construction paper to the walls of your workspace could go a long way toward brightening up a dreary space!

Green Your Office

When temperatures drop and green fades to brown outside, indoor plants can bring a sense of life and joy. Studies show that plants in the office do more for us than give us fresh air to breathe. According to researchers, adding some plants to a previously bare space can increase productivity by 15 percent!

In an office environment, it’s key to choose low-maintenance plants that can handle low light and warmer environments. Most plants won’t get the perk of a big, corner office window, so choose plants that don’t require much time in the sun. Office-friendly species like Jade or Snake plants can add the perfect amount of cheer to help us survive the dreary weather outside.

How do you stay on-task when the winter blues threaten to carry you to the couch? Let us know on our Facebook page and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more research and insights.

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