Memorial Day signaled the unofficial beginning of summer in the U.S. Some employers also view it as the beginning of a summer slump in productivity and employee focus. At Beehive, we believe summer is a natural energy and productivity accelerator. And our productivity numbers prove it. Our team was 16 percent more productive in 2018 during the summer months than during the rest of the year.
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Summer brings more daylight hours and warmer weather that lure us outdoors on walks and bike rides and into nature. We go camping, escape to the lake, take in outdoor music concerts and art festivals. This is prime time to harness the season’s energy boost for inspiration and creativity — personally and professionally. So how can companies use summertime as a business accelerator?
Offer summer hours
Last year, 46 percent of organizations in North America offered their employees “Summer Fridays,” according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. Beehive is one of them. From Memorial Day through Labor Day our employees have the option to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday in exchange for a noon departure on Fridays. Multiple research studies confirm employees are more productive, morale is better and turnover is reduced when employers offer flexibility or shorter work weeks in the summertime. We notice each year more clients and business partners also observing summer hours.
There are a number of ways to increase the odds of a successful summer hours schedule:
- Work on deadlines in advance so everyone can enjoy summer hours
- Designate a different on-call person each Friday afternoon in case of an urgent need
- Agree to overall good communication with your team, clients, customers and partners
- Proactive expectation management with clients and customers, including advance notice of the summer hours schedule and out-of-office messages on email and phones
A recent Robert Half/Accountemps survey found nearly 60 percent of workers save their vacation time for June, July and August, and respondents planned to take an average of 10 days off this summer. At Beehive our PTO hours double in summer weeks compared to non-summer weeks, yet our productivity numbers range year-over-year from flat to more productive in the summer.
Employers: resist the urge to cringe at this stat and see the long-term business benefits, including higher employee engagement and better retention. With many workers experiencing stress, anxiety and depression, vacation time offers the chance to reset and restore. And that’s good for everyone. An O.C. Tanner survey tells us 70 percent of workers who took a week or more of vacation were more loyal and driven to contribute to the organization’s success. Managing vacation time without sacrificing productivity takes good advance planning, detailed hand-off plans and close team collaboration. And it’s completely doable.
We know employees are going to be on vacation more during the summer. This is the ideal time to embrace new productivity practices that allow us all to work more efficiently and accomplish more when we are at work. At Beehive we do that by implementing daily Power Hours. Power Hours maximize our natural rhythms to help advance critical priorities with focus and urgency.
How does a Power Hour work?
- Commit to a 60 – 90 minute block of time and set an alarm
- Turn off all “notifications,” log out of email and put phones on silent or airplane mode to eliminate digital distractions
- Focus your attention to experience a state of flow that comes from immersion and concentration
- At 60 minutes (or whatever works best for you), take a renewal break. Invest 5-15 minutes in a non-digital activity that renews your energy – walk, meditate, move, connect with a friend. These breaks are key to being able to come back and focus your attention once again.
This pattern of Focus + Break matches our natural “ultradian” rhythms by alternating intense bursts of work activity with equally intense periods of rest. According to research, during each of these ultradian cycles, there is a peak when we are most energized and a period when we are exhausted. Work with those natural cycles to maximize your energy, effort and results.
Turn up the thermostat
It might be warm outside this summer, but it’s cold inside. A recent study cited in the Atlantic article, “Frigid Offices Might Be Killing Women’s Productivity,” indicates that women perform better in warmer office temperatures. If you can’t adjust the thermostat, provide space heaters or implement other solutions that warm up your space.
How does your business manage summertime? Find us on LinkedIn to share your experience.