Summer is here and the livin’ is easy—but getting work done sure isn’t. In fact, studies suggest that workplace productivity drops an average of 20% during the summer months. Workers are taking vacations, parents are distracted with kids who are out of school for the next 8-10 weeks and the whole laid-back vibe of the summer months can slow things down to what feels like an office crawl.
But you don’t have to write off June-August as a total waste of time. In fact, you can accomplish some really important things during the summer that’ll carry you through the rest of the year on a positive note and increase productivity for the long-term, plus make a positive impact on your organization’s culture.
First, let’s talk about what you can do as an employer:
- Offer flexible work options. You may already be doing this with a hybrid work situation, or maybe the majority of your employees are still working from home. Whether that’s the case or not, there are other ways to offer flexibility: Half-day Fridays (or “no meetings Fridays”); let parents come and go as needed according to their kids’ summer schedules; or encourage teams to get together for fun events, even during the workday, that will strengthen connectedness and chemistry.
- Encourage people to use their vacation time. If summer is a particularly quiet time of year for your business, this is when you want them to be taking time off, so you’ll be fully staffed and up and running during your busiest times. Plus, people need vacation time, and encouraging them to take it is just being a good human.
- When people are away, let them truly be away. Encourage your workers to disconnect and take a much-needed mental break while they’re physically away—you’ll welcome back employees who are rested, refreshed and more ready to be productive if your workplace culture encourages true breaks and vacations without expectations.
- Don’t skip meetings just because a few people are out. Keep your regular meetings as scheduled so you don’t lose momentum. Take notes or record Zoom sessions so your vacationers can easily catch up when they’re back.
- Infuse some fun into your workplace. Bring in an ice cream or food truck one afternoon. Host a family fun day at a ballpark. Plan a potluck picnic outside at a nearby park. Schedule fun lunch ‘n learns, like a wine and cheese tasting or team-building activities. Maybe shoot for one fun workplace event every 3-4 weeks—and some of them can be simple, like “feel free to wear (workplace-appropriate) shorts or PJ pants this Friday.” Heck, it’s summer—roll with the vibe.
Now let’s talk about what you can do as an individual to manage your summer productivity:
- Take a vacation! Really—you need a break from your job. Just try to plan ahead, which will significantly reduce your levels of stress while you’re gone. Consider which tasks absolutely still need to get done while you’re out, and delegate them. If they can wait till you’re back, let them.
- Block out the first few hours of your first day back so you can clean out your inbox and find any new priorities that crept in. This keeps people from scheduling meetings with you while you’re in “re-entry” mode.
- Returning to your desk after a vacation can bring on a case of post-vacation blues, so don’t load up your first day back with tasks and projects you dread. Try to plan your first day back with touch-bases, catch-ups and easy tasks that allow you to re-enter seamlessly, so you’re ready to dive into whatever is waiting the next day.
- Clean your desk prior to going on vacation, so when you return, you’re not distracted with clutter. Same goes for your inbox.
- Hint: It’s not necessary to finish everything prior to vacation. For some people, leaving a project in progress gives them an easy starting point when they return. It can be easier to continue a project rather than start a new one, and that can help you get you back in the groove.
- But know yourself: If leaving an incomplete project hanging before you’re going to check out for 10 days will be a distraction and keep you from disconnecting, get it done before you go. The purpose of vacation is to leave work at work, not let it take up space in your head while you’re trying to focus on having fun.
One last tip, for both companies and workers: If summer tends to be a slow time for you, plan ahead. What can you do in July that will alleviate any stress or pressure that will be there when business picks up—maybe during the fall or at the end of the year? For example, think “Christmas in July.” Now might be a good time to get those holiday cards out of the way, or plan your end-of-year campaign. Maybe you’ll need more trade show materials this fall, and you can order them now so you have them when it’s time to roll. Or, maybe you’ve been putting off updates to your website—wouldn’t it be better to make them now than in Q3 when your online traffic tends to pick up?
If planning ahead sounds like a good idea, let us know how we can help you now so you’re not stressed later—and your productivity can stay high, no matter what month it is.