Keeping your office open over Christmas and the festive period is a difficult decision for many, especially for small businesses, who could potentially lose a considerable amount of money if they miss out on fresh opportunities. On the other hand, staying open could mean a significant drop in productivity, poor morale and few leads to work on.
So how do you decide? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you find a solution that is right for your company and your employees:
What are your customers doing?
The most important question you need to consider is what your customers do over the festive period. If you work in marketing or recruitment, it's unlikely that people will be needing your services during Christmas. However, if you're in hospitality or retail, you'll probably find that demand is even higher over this period than at any other time. Looking at sales figures or other data analyzing consumer behavior should help you understand whether or not you're missing big sales opportunities by closing during the holidays.
What are your other options?
For many companies, remote working offers a good compromise between being open and not. However, this may not be suitable or even possible for your business. If you can have your managers or other decision makers keeping an eye on emails or as an emergency contact for customer support, it may be less risky to close the office and allow employees some down time.
How important is it to your employees?
Morale is an important part of any business, having a significant impact on productivity and loyalty, so this should be a key consideration when thinking about your Christmas opening hours. If you have a lot of staff that have children, or have to travel a distance to see their families, it's worth considering the risks of closing the office for a short period.
How else can consumers get in touch?
If your office is the only way people get in touch with your business, then it's a bigger risk to close than if there are multiple ways for people to contact you. Having an effective website, with a clear customer journey mapped out, emergency contact numbers, and a smart email system, can give you all the freedom you need to close the office. Social media is also a fantastic way for clients to reach you even if you're not in your normal working environment.
This way, you know customers can register their interest or report a problem without you having to be there to answer the phone. However, if none of this is possible, you may want to restrict the amount of time your company is closed.
When do Christmas and Bank Holidays fall?
It may sound silly, but looking at what day Christmas is on can make a massive difference to your decision. For example, if Christmas Day is on a Wednesday, staff would normally get it and the next day off, so closing your office for an extra day and opening up properly the next week isn't that much of a sacrifice and allows your employees to have a decent amount of time away.
How will your customers react?
If you offer an ongoing service to customers, such as marketing or recruitment, you need to think about how your customers will react to your office being closed. It may be that this is normal practice and they will be out of the office themselves until the New Year, or it might send them into a frenzied panic. Either way, it's essential that you communicate with them to tell them exactly what the situation will be and what options there are if they have an urgent matter.
What are your competitors doing?
Looking at what other companies in your industry are doing can give you guidance on whether it's worth staying open over the festive period. It may be that by remaining open you can have the lion's share of the market, or it might be that other businesses are shut because there are very few opportunities over the Christmas period. Researching consumer behavior should help you decide which option is more likely.