Remember summer vacation as a kid?
That final bell of the school year would ring some time in early June and you’d set off for three months of freedom and adventure — or a lot of summertime TV, as the case might be.
Of course you remember. We all remember. In fact, you might even argue that schools did us a disservice by training us to associate June, July, and August with fun and the total abdication of responsibility: as adults, we don’t want to let go of this dream.
But while the summertime business slump may be an unconscious throwback to our youth, that doesn’t mean it has to be our destiny. Here are some tips for avoiding a dip in productivity as the temperature rises.
Is the Summertime Slump Even a Thing? You’d Be Surprised
The first step is admitting there’s a problem.
Not only is the summertime slump a thing, but it’s incredibly easy to quantify. We’ve already done it at Grasshopper with The Summer Slump infographic.
Many of these statistics deal with temperatures inside the office. But there’s no way to measure the amount of office time spent daydreaming about beautiful summer weather — particularly if you’re near the window.
This unconscious drop in productivity isn’t just your mind playing tricks on you. Chances are, you’ve noticed it yourself: the leisurely Friday afternoons, an increase in groaning on Monday mornings, and the increasing calls for time spent outdoors.
Since you can’t very well relocate your entire office to a beach in the Caribbean and expect to get anything done, let’s look at the next best solutions.
Finding the Ideal Temperature for Your Office
You’d be surprised how much the temperature of your office matters during the summer months.
If the summertime slump was only about daydreaming about the great outdoors, you might simply close a shade or two. But indoor temperatures that go to hot or too cold have a demonstrable effect on concentration and productivity.
Old OSHA recommendations suggest that your office remain somewhere in the 68-76-degree range — Fahrenheit, of course. Go over that and you lose productivity; under that and you start to see much more human error.
Of course, that eight-degree window will be the subject of much office debate: the Wall Street Journal dubs these debates “The Thermostat Wars.” In their report, the WSJ quoted a survey finding that as many as 60% of employees will mess with the thermostat without permission.
What’s right for your office? If the Thermostat Wars are strong in the summertime, chances are you’re going to have to struggle to find a happy medium — which may be an oxymoron in this case.
Meet Your Employees’ Need for Activity
When the weather is cooperating and the sun is out, it’s a natural human tendency to want to go out and burn some calories.
According to one study, those companies that provide on-site gyms actually do boost the productivity of their workers. There are no definite statistics about the summer slump at the Googleplex, but it’s hard to imagine that they let the summer get the best of them, either.
There’s a reason that summertime is the season of company picnics and outdoor meetings: it’s just more pleasant. And if you can make summer feel a little bit more like summer because your employees get to experience some of it at work, chances are you won’t have to fight the summer slump quite as hard as you thought.
The Employee’s Perspective: Concentration in the Season of Distractions
These tips are all fine and good if you’re a manager. But what if you’re simply looking to keep your work performance up from the perspective of an employee? Here are a few tips for making the most of your summer hours:
Take advantage of the extra daylight. When winter hits and you wake up in morning darkness that might as well be midnight, it can be hard to find the motivation to wake up early. But summer’s different. The daylight extends well before 7:00 a.m. — with it comes energy. Take advantage of the extra daylight: treat yourself to a home-cooked breakfast, go for a run, or catch up on work to start the day. If you were never all that comfortable with heat to begin with, you may even find yourself more productive in the cooler hours.
Get more ambitious. In most cases, the summer slump only gets the best of you because you’re not on your guard. Why not set some more ambitious goals for the summer? Raise your own expectations: set a higher sales quota, or even pick an arbitrary measure of your personal productivity and resolve to set new highs for every month. The easiest way to succumb to summer slumpage is to get complacent.
Plan for the heat. Yes, it will get hot. At some points, it will get very hot. But if you find yourself surprised by this fact, you might want to read up on your Farmer’s Almanac. It gets hot every year! There’s no reason you can’t plan ahead with a simple fan at the office, a personal cooler for your refreshing beverage, or the purchase of a summer-friendly office fabric to wear.
Banish the Slump
Even if you can’t quite manage a three-month long summer vacation this year, there’s no reason you can’t have a productive season and still enjoy everything the good weather has to offer. It might just take a little more focus than usual.