It is perhaps not surprising to learn that employees can struggle to work effectively during the summer, when there is the distraction of warm or even hot summer days, accompanied in many regions by high humidity that makes for uncomfortably sticky afternoons, evenings and nights.
For instance, British workers are traditionally less productive during the summertime, according to a new study. One in four employees said that they only worked to full capacity for one day and then coasted through the rest of the week. In the U.S., 25 percent of office workers felt their productivity decreased in the summertime, with arguments often ensuing as to what the optimum workplace temperature should be.
A number of factors have been identified as contributing to the problem. People understandably want to take advantage of the better weather. Going out for a business lunch al fresco in a local restaurant or cafe, perhaps accompanied by a glass of beer or wine (rather than opting for a takeout or sandwich to eat at one’s desk), can lead to a more soporific afternoon with a corresponding reduction in an appetite for work.
Similarly, the option of meeting friends earlier in the evening for drinks or attending a ball game or outside music concert can also compete for employees’ attention, while during winter months they may opt to spend a little longer completing a task or project. Furthermore, many workers elect to take periods of time off for vacations during this time of year, further exacerbating the situation.
Stuffy offices caused by poor ventilation or a lack of good air conditioning can also cause people to struggle to keep cool, leading to the understandable drawback of poor concentration on work. Human beings tend to perform best in a very limited range of environmental conditions (70-72°F being optimum) – even a slight deviation outside these limits can have an adverse impact on performance.
One option that could help resolve many of these challenges is to provide employees with the flexibility to get their work done when they feel they are best able to – perhaps earlier or later in the day. Many Mediterranean countries have long recognized that noon to mid-afternoon is often uncomfortable for work – hence the introduction of the siesta.
With the increasingly widespread adoption of mobile devices and smartphones, it is even easier for employees to remain connected and work from anywhere as they try to keep cool. By adopting a similar (though less formal and institutionalized) approach, employees would have the freedom to work during cooler parts of the day, take a longer lunch, enjoy a cold beer and even have a swim, knowing they are on track to get the job done – while still having fun and enjoying the summer sun!
Photo Credit: cam.riley