Winter Work Woes Cost The UK £13.7 Billion

The average worker takes 6 days off in winter months, with ‘blame’ on treacherous transport due to council cuts and cold office conditions research by HSS Hire also reveals that productivity plummets when the temperatures drop. 

A new study has revealed that 22.6 million British workers take off an average of six days in winter, costing the UK £13.7billion.

As the UK braces for the big freeze, not being able to get to work due to transport woes was identified as the biggest cause for calling in sick – with cuts to council road gritting the biggest gripe meaning people can’t get to work.

HSS Hire commissioned the research of almost 2,000 UK workers – which also found seven in 10 are more likely to call in sick in winter despite feeling well enough to work, compared to just one in 10 in the summertime.


Four in ten stated that not wanting to leave the house for the dark wet commute was the primary reason and the weather, unsurprisingly puts 35 per cent of Brits in a bad mood meaning they’d rather stay in bed.

Productivity also takes a major downturn during the winter with a quarter of Brits revealing that their office is too cold to work in which is a major de-motivational factor; with 5% of office workers also adding that their keyboard typing speed slows down because they have to wear gloves at their desk due to the chill factor.

Additional hot-drink breaks and warm-up moments also contribute to reduced productivity numbers both for indoors and outdoors workers, with one fifth of workers saying that it is ‘difficult’ to get their job done in the cold and wet winter months, meaning they are more likely to pull a sickie.

For those that do turn up for work, one in four are more than 20 minutes late, with more than half of respondents admitting they had overslept due to the dark mornings, followed by 45 per cent having to take a different or much slower route due to icy roads.


78% of people who use public transport to get to work said they had absolutely no faith in being able to get to work on time if it’s wet or icy, increasing to 96% when it’s snowing.

One in three of those surveyed said that by December 1st, Brits start to feel awake amongst the cold, wet winter mornings and on average those polled said they feel properly awake and ready to work at 9.33am in winter compared to 7.55 am in summer.

A spokesperson for HSS Hire, said: “Brits love talking about the weather and at this time of year when we are playing the blame game, the weather is our number one excuse for calling in sick or being late for work.

“The findings also highlight the impact of winter weather on our mood as we find it much harder to get ready for the working day and how cold conditions generally – be it a more challenging commute or hostile working environment – are a great cause of demotivation all around.

“This demotivation is costing UK employers a staggering amount of money each year and perhaps now businesses will be wondering what they can do to boost productivity amongst their teams and ensure their employees are warm at work.”

Top 10 things people do to keep warm at work:

  1. Sit at desk with a coat on (45%)
  2. Drink more tea and coffee than usual (40%)
  3. Asked for the heating to be turned up (39%)
  4. Wear gloves and a scarf at work (35%)
  5. Take a hot water bottle to work (29%)
  6. Take a portable heater to work (25%)
  7. Move the desks closer to the heater (18%)
  8. Sit in the car to warm up (15%)
  9. Worn slippers (10%)
  10. Worn a onesie to work (10%)

The heating, lighting and power range from HSS Hire is available in branches nationwide and online with click & collect also available.


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About the Author

Lauren King

Lauren works in our Ecommerce Team, with over 6 years of experience at HSS. She brings product knowledge and is able to give her advice on the right tool for the job no matter how big or small.

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