The Sun has got his hat on and we’re coming out to play

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OR… Why good weather leads to bad productivity

At the moment, the UK (well, the Wirral at least) is basking in something of a heat wave. The days are hot and sunny, the evenings are long and balmy and the office air conditioning is struggling to keep everybody cool.

Sat in the back garden this weekend, nursing a long cool drink, my mind started to wander and I wondered how many people would currently be sitting in a pub beer garden, losing track of time and generally having a good time (whilst also slowly succumbing to sunburn and alcohol induced dehydration perhaps?!). This positive/negative mixture of thoughts led me to wonder if the weather can have an impact on productivity in the workplace…

A Harvard Business School paper published in 2012 named, “Rainmakers: Why bad weather means good productivity”, may hold some answers. The basic premise is that workers are more productive on rainy days. Since, on a beautiful sunny day they are tempted by, or daydream of, what they could be doing instead of being in work – a day at the beach or a family day out to the park for example.
Research was undertaken matching 600,000 data entry tasks undertaken in Tokyo which were plotted against weather reports on the given dates. The results showed that less errors were made on days when the weather was rainy or overcast.

Further direct research was carried out by the team and involved asking test groups to undertake a series of questions under laboratory conditions on days when the weather was either good or bad. An added test condition was that some of the groups were shown images of outdoor activities that take place on sunny days whilst a control group were not shown any images.

The end results showed that the group who completed the tasks most quickly and most accurately were those who were working on a rainy day and had not been shown images of sunny day activities beforehand.
However, when I discussed this with my colleague, he believed that good weather leads to better productivity, especially in a sales driven environment such as recruitment. He reasoned that good weather puts people in a good mood, which helps us in our day-to-day duties. When selling, the lifted mood makes us better salesmen, he suggested. Plus, if we are speaking to somebody else who is enjoying the same weather, their mood may also be brighter which could give a better chance of success.

The phenomenon of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) should also be mentioned here. The long, bright days – compared to short, dark, winter days – can make individuals happier, in turn making them better adjusted to producing quality work.

What are your thoughts? Do you look out of the window and daydream on a sunny day? Or, do you feel energised and ready for work, knowing that there will be a long sunny evening to enjoy when you have finished?

Let us know your thoughts by commenting below, it would be great to hear from everyone!