For most of us, the arrival of summer is reason to celebrate sunnier days, warmer nights and those weekend (or week-long) getaways
But for business and HR leaders, summertime doesn’t always mean the livin’s easy. From navigating vacation schedules, executing a successful summer outing and making sure productivity doesn’t evaporate, the season can bring some unique challenges.
Let’s take a look at some of those challenges and a few strategies for keeping your office running smoothly this summer.
Surviving the Summer Slowdown
When the weather heats up, that doesn’t mean your workplace has to cool down when it comes to performance and productivity. Yes, there’s research out there that says productivity can dip by up to 20 percent during the summer months. But you can avoid that decline by understanding the causes and addressing them. Employees leaving early to beat traffic on their way to the beach or calling in “sick” to lounge by the pool are a couple of the main culprits.
Our advice: If you’re not already implementing them, use the summer to test out flexible work arrangements at your office. As you roll out flex work, make sure to communicate to employees that you’ll focus on results, rather than when or where the work is done – and stress that this flexibility is a privilege not a right. When you’re able to give a little flexibility, you should get improved productivity in return.
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Setting Summer Hours … Or Not
Summer hours or Summer Fridays are a hugely popular work perk this time of year. Many companies have found that adopting this type of summer schedule is a stress-reliever and source of positive vibes that can benefit the bottom line. Others have had different experiences, finding that losing a workday – even once in a while – can overburden staff by making them cram everything into a four-day work week.
At the end of the day, there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to summer hours. Some organizations will let employees extend their hours Monday through Thursday in order to leave early on Fridays. Others simply announce the office is closed on a few Fridays throughout the summer. To find the approach that’s best suited to your office, you’ll need to consider variables like peak season, upcoming product releases or campaign launches and, of course, your company culture. You might also survey employees as you collect feedback to figure out what works best for you.
Navigating Crazy Schedules
Summer is peak season for the OOO email. You’ve got team members taking a Friday here and a Monday there; a week at the lake in late June and one at the beach in early August. Then there’s the odd Tuesday off when family’s in town and the handful of half-days for summer camps and swimming lessons. When out-of-office notifications consumer the calendar, meetings, in turn, get harder to schedule.
What can you do about it? Make the irregular schedules a little more predictable by encouraging your teams to schedule out their time off well in advance of their days out, and have coverage plans in place to minimize the impact of their absences. And when execs and other decision makers are out, don’t fret about missed meetings. Use the “down” time to work on other projects you haven’t been able to prioritize.
Keeping Working Parents Engaged
For working moms and dads, the summer can be equal parts excitement and stress. “Stress?” you say. Why yes. Hectic as the school year can be with all of the pickups, drop-offs and extra curriculars, at least it’s predictable. Summer, for many working parents, means a mad dash to coordinate activities, camps, child care and vacations – and most of that work is done during the early spring. There’s a ton of pressure that goes into planning every detail, right down to how to get the kids to a mid-morning swimming lesson when you’re working downtown. And that’s not to mention the guilt many parents feel when they want to give their kiddos the best summer ever but have to balance that with meeting responsibilities at work.
Fighting the FOMO
There’s a reason they call them the lazy, hazy days of summer. And it’s usually pretty obvious when they start to hit the office. People start breaking out the flip flops and dipping out of the office early, distractions run rampant and half the workforce comes down with a serious case of FOMO – also known as fear of missing out. You can’t blame them for not wanting to be cooped up in the office when there’s sun to be soaked up, concerts to see and golf to be played. What you can do is give them something to look forward -- a Happy Hour here and an ice cream cart there can be a low-cost way to boost morale on those warm Thursday afternoons when the A/C just isn’t cutting it.
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