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Workers got more done Christmas week

CHICAGO  Despite all the vacant desks in the office, for some workers the week between Christmas and New Year's is the most productive time of the year.

Though one-third of workers take the entire week off, overall productivity slumps only 5 percent, according to an analysis from file-sharing service Egnyte. Some industries even saw an increase in productivity last year.

That's partially because technology is allowing people to work  or at least check in  from wherever they may be during the holidays, from grandma's house to Hawaii, said Colin Jordan, director of corporate marketing at Egnyte.

"Ten to 15 years ago, they were cut off," he said.

But for some who braved the frigid weather and made it into their Chicago-area offices Tuesday, it wasn't so much about the technology  it was the tranquility that fills the office when large numbers of colleagues are out.

"I actually looked forward to coming into work today," said Halle Levy, grants manager at Healthcare Alternative Systems. "(I) knew it was for me to just kind of relax after the weekend and get work done."

Plus, Levy said her commute Tuesday morning to the nonprofit's Logan Square office was a breeze, and parking was no problem.

For Lauren Okum, the founder of a firm that sets up pension plans for small to midsize businesses and their employees, this week is always noticeably productive.

"I don't have the volume of emails and voicemails and phone calls that I typically do," she said. "I crank out so much work."

Okum, who runs Premier Actuarial Solutions out of the WeWork Kinzie co-working space in the Near North neighborhood, has gained new business by working during Christmas week. If someone is setting up a pension plan for 2017, it has to be adopted by the end of the year, she said. Many others in her line of work take the week off, but she's available for people who waited until the last minute, she said.

"I'm here and I can meet the deadline," Okum said.

The business services industry, which includes companies like Okum's, payroll processors or similar services, saw a 26 percent increase in productivity during this week in 2016, according to the Egnyte analysis, which compared data from last year's holiday week with data from an average week.

The Lawton Constitution

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