Health Wars: The Dark Side of Busy Season

The advent of busy season draws many of us towards the dark side of long hours sitting at our desks, craving and eating unhealthy foods, drinking way too much caffeine, and passing by regular exercise opportunities because we “promised to finish one more project before going home.” While we can seldom do much about the number of work hours needed during busy season, we can take steps to keep our health (and our attitude) on the bright side. Below are 10 tips to consider for a healthier busy season and five technologies that will help you along the way.

  1. Quick Stretch: Every time you sit back at your desk, take a moment to stretch. Do a web search on office stretches and you will find charts that you can print and post around the office. This will give you a fresh start on any project and loosen up your neck, shoulders, and back so you are focused on the grind ahead.

  2. Get out for Lunch: We all know that eating at our desks or shoving down lunch in five minutes is bad. After a long morning, walk some place for lunch where you can get a little sunshine, exercise and fresh air. Think about making healthy selections or if you have to have that pizza, consider portion control and target a healthy snack later in the office if you get hungry.

  3. Go on a Secret Mission: Sometimes we can’t get out for lunch, get stuck on a project and need to get reinvigorated to get it done. Put down everything and charge through the office with intent and without stopping to talk with anyone. Go up and down the stairs and around the parking lot briskly and when you get back to your desk you will be re-energized. Mission complete!

  4. Healthy Snacks: Promote good snacks by having different fruits brought in weekly which you can place in front of those salty, fried and fatty snacks we often crave. Mixing up different offerings of apples, bananas, oranges, carrots and nuts will provide variety and help all of us reduce overeating at lunch.

  5. Drink More Water: Many of us are addicted to coffee to survive busy seasons even though we know too much is bad for us. Consider filling up a water glass every time you fill up your coffee/tea cup and don’t get more until both are empty, or better yet, switch to decaf in the afternoon which promotes better sleeping at night.

  6. Connect Break: Step away from your office and phone or text with a friend/ family member for a ten-minute break to say hello. It’s the thought that counts and reconnecting during the day lets them know you are thinking of them.

  7. Sanitize: Busy season is also cold and flu season so remind people to wash their hands often. Help support office wellness by making hand sanitizer available throughout the office common areas and in the washrooms.

  8. Healthy Boost: If you can’t or don’t eat a super healthy diet every day during busy season, one option may be to boost your immune system with vitamins and supplements. While controversial to some, others have found that when they’re feeling something coming on, that taking an Emergen-C, Airborne, or Green Smoothie seems to help fight off sickness; whether just mental or truly physical, the act helps to promote those healthy boosts.

  9. Optimize with Flex Time: While core hours where everyone must be in the office may need to be scheduled, overtime hours can be flexible and target when each individual is most productive. Either coming in extremely early and leaving early, or shifting work with remote access allows individuals the freedom to work the overtime schedule that best fits their lifestyle.

  10. Rest Day: Our bodies need rest and firms should promote taking at least one day off per week for family time and to mentally recharge. Encouraging your staff to rest can boost morale, instead of the dreaded “Mandatory Saturdays” which often conflict with family and personal activities.

While posting the list above within eyesight will help you energize, there are also some technologies that you might want to consider which will also improve your productivity. Below are five techs that can promote corporate wellness.

  1. Work Standing Up: Studies show that we are more productive when we alternate between sitting and standing at work. Today this can be done either with automated standing desks (UpDesk, Steelcase) or manual devices such as VariDesk that sit on top of your desk.

  2. Comfortable Headset: Many of us are spending more time talking on the phone and communicating with others through the computer. Investing in a good Noise Cancelling headset will reduce neck strain and distracting noise, and Bluetooth devices such as Plantronics Voyager Focus UCS can quickly switch between talking on your smartphone and through your computer.

  3. Reduce Eyestrain: Replacing older monitors that are lower resolution and have slower refresh rates (screen flicker) with larger, Ultra High Definition displays is a quick way to increase individual productivity. Firms often keep monitors for five or more years, so investing $600 in a 28” to 34” 3K/4K screen is a great investment that is recouped in as little as a half hour of charge time per year.

  4. Don’t Spread Sickness: If you are not feeling well avoid physical contact with other firm members by working from home! With today’s Citrix/RDS remote access and Skype/Lync collaboration tools, people can work as effectively from home as from the office if they feel up to it. Building your firm’s own private cloud also allows people to keep working even during the occasional blizzard!

  5. Keep Score: Set a personal goal to do at least five positively healthy things each day and put a star on your calendar as a visual reminder of your good choices this busy season. Better yet, keep a firm or department dashboard and reward everyone that has five or more stars the previous week with a random drawing for movie tickets, an iTunes or Amazon gift card, or lunch certificates to a healthy restaurant within walking distance of your office! If you want to keep track of how much activity your people are doing, Garmin and FitBit have corporate wellness programs that will help you keep score.

There is no getting away from the realities of busy season, but there are things we can individually do to make it more productive for us and our firms. Posting the list of tips and promoting wellness in your firm can make it a little easier and show that you really do care.

Roman H. Kepczyk is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC and works exclusively with accounting firms to implement today’s leading best practices and technologies.

Last updated: 21 October 2019