“I’ve got that summertime, summertime sadness.”
If you’re blessed—or cursed, depending on who you ask—with unusually warm weather during your summers, you know how much of a strain the heat can put on the workplace (and, in turn, productivity). We’ve been programmed since childhood to have certain expectations for those times between early June and late August. We remember fondly the days of summer vacations with the family and the generally laziness that accompanied not having school to attend. It’s only natural to think that we, as adults, continue with that same mindset.
There’s a study by Captivate that sampled 600 white collar workers to prove that summertime kills your productivity. You can read the study for yourself, but the TL;DR version is that productivity dropped a whole 20% during the summer months. There was also a 19% higher absence rate during those months, and even evidence that showed workers were 45% less attentive. So, as you guessed it, summer can be rough for everyone. There are some things you can do to help keep your workers both happy and productive, however.
If the manner of your work allows for it, many companies will implement what is referred to as “summer hours.” Summer hours typically allow workers to either leave early or take the day off on Fridays. Time is made up in the form of either 10 hour days Monday through Thursday (for hourly types) or just an increased workload during your traditional shifts. This is something that depends on the nature of the work, however. Not all industries will be able to afford the luxury of shorter work hours, and it ought to be taken on a job-by-job basis.
Consistency is another way to help summer productivity. We are creatures of habit after all. Many offices allow for a more lax work attire during the heat of the summer. While it seems like you are doing your employees a favor, you’re actually hurting your productivity. Keep your business dress code through the summer months. While it might not wipe out daydreaming employees completely, it will help them stay focused and on task.
And the reason employees lose focus during the summer is because it’s nice out! Take advantage of the good weather and find excuses to enjoy it. Encourage your workers to take lunch breaks outside and spend time with their coworkers breaking bread. If your workplace allows for it, try to occasionally schedule meetings with your employees and coworkers outside. Maybe not in the afternoon, when the day is the hottest, but a 10 am meeting in natural sunlight can do wonders for your morale and productivity.
At the end of the day, that productivity decline is inevitable to a certain degree. All you can do is try to implement some of the tips above to even out that downward slope. Besides that, plan accordingly. Study the habits of your employees. Find out how much productivity changes for your office and use that knowledge to better plan for next summer. Winter is not the only thing coming—summer is, too.