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8 Ways to Handle Summer Productivity Problems

Help keep your team focused on productivity during the hot, often distracting months with these tips.
July 08, 2015

Does productivity at your small business drop off during the summer months? Perhaps that isn’t a problem for you if demand for your products or services normally slows down when the temperatures heat up. But if your business is like many other small businesses out there, you need your team to keep up a "business-as-usual” pace all summer long.

Keep productivity high even when temperatures rise with these eight helpful tips:

1. Plan Ahead

Have your employees request time off well in advance so you can plan schedules and make sure staffing needs are handled. Employee scheduling software can help if you have a labor-intensive business, such as a restaurant or retail store. It's especially helpful if you rely on part-time or summer employees to cover for your regular staff. There are a number of employee scheduling software tools you can use to keep everything in order.

2. Set Summer Hours

Lots of companies offer summer hours where employees get every Friday afternoon off or every other Friday off. Knowing they have Friday off can make employees less likely to call in “sick” on sunny Mondays. If you can’t afford to cut weekly hours, consider doing a four/10 schedule where staffers work 10 hours a day Monday through Thursday and have Fridays off. Make sure whatever scheduling option you choose doesn't violate federal or state overtime laws.

3. Offer Flexible Hours and/or Remote Work

If employees have a chance to adjust their hours and/or work from home when needed, they’re likely to be happier and more productive. Almost two-thirds of managers in a survey conducted by Staples claim telecommuting is essential to a productive workday. However, if you do let employees work remotely, make sure they've got the appropriate technology to do so and that it’s not compromising your data security. More than 40 percent of the managers surveyed say that the lack of appropriate technology hampers productivity.

4. Keep It Cool

Don't be a Scrooge when it comes to air conditioning. In the Staples survey, 40 percent of office workers cited office temperatures as a barrier to productivity. Keeping your office cool while the rest of the world is sweltering is a powerful incentive for employees to come in early and leave late just to get a break from the heat.

5. Enable Breaks

One-third of managers surveyed say breaks are essential to productivity. Take advantage of unused space in your business to set up private nooks with couches, comfy chairs and tables that encourage employees to rest and recharge. Create a clean, comfortable break room for snacks. The bonus to pleasant break spots is that employees may come together and offer new ideas for work when they’re away from their desks.

6. Provide Snacks

Why do big companies provide catered meals? Because when employees don’t have to leave the office to get food and drink, they work harder. While a large spread may be beyond the average small business’s means, you can offer filtered water, a coffee maker, tea supplies and a refrigerator and microwave so employees can bring and prepare their own food in-house. Expand the eats by contracting with a vending machine company to install vending machines with healthy snacks, sodas and treats. Investigate local food trucks to see if they’ll stop by your location. Find out what local restaurants deliver, and get menus to post in the break room.

7. Boost Morale

It can be hard to stay focused during the summer, so be sure you make an extra effort to keep employees’ spirits high. For example, you can bring in lunch on Friday afternoons, move meetings outside so staffers can grab some rays while they work or hold contests where departments compete for prizes.

8. Reward Productivity

Set measurable goals for individual employees, departments or the company as a whole. Then reward achievement with comp time. If you can’t afford to give employees a day off, giving them an afternoon off, letting them leave a few hours early to beat Friday traffic or letting them come in a few hours late the morning after a big project is completed can help rejuvenate wiped-out workers. 

Read more articles on productivity.

This article was originally published on July 24, 2014.

Photo: Getty Images