The holiday season is right around the corner, and so it is time again for office politics over what, if anything at all, is appropriate or not, in terms of seasonal decorations displayed in business or public spaces. Considering that you spend half of your waking hours working, it’s not likely a surprise that you’re not alone in wanting to spice up the daily office routine grind with a little fun using seasonal decor.
Opinions Will Differ
Problems typically bubble up when opinions differ as to what exactly is appropriate and what holiday shall be celebrated. In many cases, people assume an all-encompassing mentality that mixes the traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah with Kwanzaa, although it might depend on the particular makeup of the office staff around you. Under the best possible circumstances, this might engender camaraderie among professional peers.
If things go badly though, it can turn an office into a battlefield where those who believe in their personal expression get into conflict with those who don’t celebrate anything about the season or just prefer not dealing with it all for the half of their waking hours spent at work. In general, it can be wise for any company to formulate and distribute a written policy that perhaps be based on safety issues while also recognising the general cultural mix of their customers and employees.
A lot of organisations put out rules about the types of holiday displays they find acceptable and which ones aren’t, based on safety reasons. For example, every decoration needs to be flame-retardant. Anything with lights or lit candles should be considered safe for use indoors. Exits and walkways need to remain clear of displays, be they Frosty the Snowman or Christmas trees.
Decorations generally shouldn’t impede an office’s daily flow. This is all basic and easy to understand. Something that gets more complicated to handle is any employee wanting to listen to their holiday-specific music at their desk, put out blinking lights, or display nutmeg-scented pinecones. Some employees can be quite happy with such things; there are many ways or reasons how this can infringe on their office neighbours. Or cubicle counterparts.
Holiday Decor Policies From Around The Nation
Back in 2006, a survey conducted of members of the International Facilities Management Association regarding their policies covering holiday decor. 94 percent of the known respondents reported that their employees were permitted holiday decorations, with Christmas coming in ahead of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Still, a quarter of them reported issues with their decorations, and the overwhelming majority of those complaints wound up leading to changes in policy.
Excessive decorating, damage to facilities and safety considerations were among the reported issues. A number of respondents also noted that they held office contests for the best displays in various categories, such as funniest or prettiest, as ways to improve employee morale. In the end, it was hard to satisfy everyone. For many, holiday decor was a matter of ‘more is better’, whereas others deep no display level appropriate given the religious implications.
There seems to be a consensus that employees wanting to decorate their individual spaces need to do so on person time, such as prior to or following a shift, or during a break. Their neighbours should also not be imposed on in any way. Any symbols that are truly religious, such as a nativity scene need to be kept small enough to be unobtrusive and for an owner only. Alternatively, more common decorations like garlands can prove more appropriate since they are more representative of a holiday’s commercialised side.
Office decorating for holidays should always stay in line with the nature of a business. For instance, a financial services firm is going to be more professional than a toy company’s displays of vibrant exuberance. Decorating rules should be as mindful and serious as employee dress codes, allowing for the work happening and how much someone interacts with clients. Finally, it has to be remembered that as fun as holiday decor can be, work is still work, and nothing should endanger productivity, employee safety, or the establishment’s professional appearance and imagery.