This time of year, I start getting a lot of vacation out of office messages. It’s harder to schedule meetings with most clients, and you can forget meetings with clients in Europe. The parking lot of our office building empties out around lunchtime most Fridays. The traffic lightens up a little bit. You can feel it in the humid, hot air - it’s summer time. Maybe it’s a holdover from the carefree summers of our youth, but summertime usually brings more than just popsicles and pool parties - it also brings the urge to let up the gas and drop items off the to-do list.
Is all this summer time distraction really slowing down your productivity? I did a little research into the supposed “summer slump” and found a SHRM article confirming that it’s a real thing:
According to a 2012 study by Harvard Business School, increasingly sunny days are directly related to a decrease in worker efficiency and productivity. The report states that workers are especially productive on rainy days, simply because they're not tempted to leave the workplace for long stretches to walk in the park or to call in "sick" so they can spend an afternoon at the beach.
If most of us have a tendency to be less productive in the summer, what can we do to set ourselves and our teams up for success?
How to Combat the Summer Slump:
1. Take a Break
It may sound counter-intuitive, but there’s a strong consensus that one of the best ways to avoid summertime dips in productivity is to embrace the slower season and take a break. The article in SHRM recommends going on a vacation or taking advantage of opportunities for training or professional leadership development. The articles notes that “the 'summer slump' can hit an employee particularly hard if they're not taking adequate vacation time. They can grow tired, distracted and restless—all of which can affect their work.”
Check out this infographic on why you shouldn’t leave your vacation days on the table.
In an article in Forbes, productivity guru David Allen reminds us that "you do not have to be on a faraway island to make time for yourself. An evening stroll through the park or a weekend hike can be just as rejuvenating, if you consciously choose to unwind.”
Some companies implement flexible work policies that allow team members to work remotely on Fridays in the summer or leave early once in a while to encourage people to take a break in the slower summer months.
2. Mix Things Up
Even if you don’t have extra vacation days or the flexibility to loosen up your schedule, you can still change up the routine to avoid the summer rut. An article in Inc suggests a few ways to keep things fresh for yourself and your team:
"Ask your team members to move spots, ask your facilities manager to switch up the seating arrangement or simply offer standing desk options. A small change of scenery can do wonders for igniting productivity and helping employees feel rejuvenated.”
Lifehacker has a similar suggestion:
"If work is starting to feel a little stale, you may be able to get a kick-start simply by changing your routine or environment. Try getting outside more during the workday (e.g., holding meetings outside or taking a walk during breaks) or working at a coffeeshop for some renewed creativity.”
The article in Forbes also suggests organizing your workspace and starting a workout routine to stay happy and productive during the summer months.
3. Consider the Temperature
Another surprising trend in all the articles I read on this subject is that they all mentioned the thermostat. Apparently, my coworker who showed up in socks and sandals the other day isn’t alone in having trouble navigating the freezing office temperature and the sweltering heat outdoors.
So what’s the right temperature for your office? According to Forbes, "the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends a temperature range of 68°F to 76°F."
Following these tips to take a break, shake up the routine, and work in a comfortable temperature will hopefully be enough to carry you and the team through the summer slump. Keeping your goals top of mind and collaborating effectively as a team can also help you stay on track. If you are lucky enough to be on vacation, enjoy :)
Want to read more resources related to this topic? Enjoy these:
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images