Ah, summer. The days are longer, the sun is warmer, and people seem … happier? In short, summertime is good.
But is it good for your business’s productivity?
In the summertime, work might be the last thing on your employees’ minds, especially with the coronavirus pandemic. But with the right balance and preparation, it doesn’t have to be.
6 Tips For A Productive Summer
Summer is a breeding ground for work disengagement and all eyes on fun in the sun. One study found that workplace productivity drops 20% in the summer.
And depending on the seasonality of your business, the summer months might be your busiest time of the year.
What’s a business owner to do?
1. Get Vacation Requests Ahead Of Time
Last year, 62% of Americans planned a summer vacation, according to AAA.
Now, picture that statistic in your workplace. What if 62% of your staff planned a summer vacation at the same time?
OK, that number will likely be lower this year because of coronavirus limitations. But even if a good chunk of your employees took a vacation (or “staycation”) at the same time, you’d probably lose a heck of a lot of productivity in your business. Which is why it’s important to get vacation requests well in advance, especially if employees are all planning on the same time period.
For smooth sailing, you need to have a vacation request procedure in place. Create a plan that details how far in advance employees need to request vacation time.
You should also plan for the event that two or more employees are eyeing the same time frame for their vacations. Will you grant vacation requests on a first-come, first-served basis or a seniority basis?
By getting vacation requests ahead of time, you can plan accordingly.
2. Stretch A Little Bit
No, I’m not suggesting you do lunges with your co-workers each day. What I am suggesting is that you consider being a little more flexible in the summertime.
In addition to employees wanting to enjoy the warm summer months as much as they can (especially after months of quarantine and isolation), there’s also a practical reason for flexibility: responsibilities.
If any of your employees are parents, they may struggle to find someone to watch their children who are on summer vacation from school. Or, they may want to spend a little extra quality time with them.
So, how can you be flexible without costing your business productivity?
Here are a few ways you can stretch yourself:
- Offer employees remote work opportunities
- Change up your employees’ work hours
- Let your employees work four, 10-hour day workweeks
- Provide employer-sponsored child care
If you opt to do one or more items on the above list, you may notice a surge in productivity rather than a hit.
3. Give Employees The Option To Work Outside
I love seeing my co-workers work outside when the weather’s nice. There’s a designated area of tables where some employees can bring their laptops and get their work done without a hitch.
This is a minor benefit to give employees. But the return is huge. My co-workers appreciate the ability to soak up some rays while getting their work done. And because of that appreciation and flexibility, they don’t take advantage of it.
Of course, it’s not feasible with all businesses and positions. But if it works with your business, consider letting your employees work outside.
4. Let Some Fresh Air In
You’d be surprised at what a little fresh air can do for your business. Throwing open some windows does more than usher in bird tweeting and car honking—it brings in productivity, too.
I read a Harvard Business Review study that found that breathing better air improved decision-making performance, a measure of productivity, in the workplace.
Now, you don’t want to throw open the windows if it’s a 99 degrees Fahrenheit kind of day. That would probably bring your productivity to a screeching halt.
But if there’s a great breeze, throwing open your windows or propping open the door could be a nice change of pace—and help you achieve a productive workplace in the summertime.
5. Limit Distractions … By Embracing Distractions
No, I’m not contradicting myself.
Distractions in the summer are rampant, which is why 45% of workers are more distracted during the summer than the rest of the year. Rather than trying to fight something that’s inevitable, you can embrace it instead. And in so doing, you can limit distractions.
At my accounting and payroll software company, Patriot Software, we host an annual summer event in either July or August. It’s during the day, which gives employees a chance to step away from their desks and into the sun.
There’s cornhole, Frisbee tossing, camaraderie, and—oh yeah—tons of food. We’ve BBQ’d and brought in catering. Yes, they’re “distracted” from their work—that’s the point of an employee event.
But do you know what I’ve noticed? My co-workers are more productive when they get back to work after they’ve had some fun in the sun. That means they can focus—distraction-free—for the rest of the day.
6. Hold Employees Accountable
Giving some of the freedoms and summer perks I’ve mentioned above can do wonders for your business’s productivity levels. But, it’s important that you continue holding your co-workers accountable in the summertime.
Continue measuring employee performance based on the work they are getting accomplished. Look at what they’re working on. Is it taking them longer to accomplish their tasks? Are they missing deadlines? If either of these happens, talk with your co-worker to get to the bottom of their unproductive summer and nip it in the bud.