Ah, the long, lazy days of summer. Phones ping less, people actually get up from their desks for lunch, and it always seems like nearly half the office is out on vacation. In short, the season for increased slacking has commenced.

But if you're thinking this post is going to offer tips to drive yourself (or your team) back to a more nose-to-the-grindstone attitude, then you've come to the wrong place. The advice I'm set to pass along is the exact opposite of the usual productivity hectoring.

Paradoxically, science shows that chilling out and enjoying the season will actually help you get more meaningful work done than trying in vain to ignore the great weather.

The happy paradox of summer slacking.

This unorthodox advice come from Cary Cooper, a psychologist at the Manchester Business School in the U.K. via Quartz's Katherine Ellen Foley. An academic expert on the relationship between mood and productivity, Cooper has helped establish a simple but powerful fact through his research -- happier workers get more done.

"Working with big, longitudinal data sets, numerous studies have established the association between stress and lower productivity and reduced job satisfaction," Cooper has commented. The reverse is also true, according to a ton of science.

Happiness tends to make you more successful and productive. Even just giving people a chance to laugh at some standup comedy before tackling math problems improves their performance. And taking time off from constant busyness and time pressure is essential not only to rest and recharge, but also for creativity and deep thinking. Stepping away from an issue gives your subconscious mind a chance to chew away at a problem. (That's why so many good ideas occur to you in the shower.)

And you probably don't need a stack of studies to tell you that summer generally reduces stress and increases happiness. That means that while you might be at your desk less during the next few months, you're probably actually getting more meaningful work done.

The bottom line is crystal clear: Bosses and employees shouldn't fight the relaxed vibe. They should celebrate it.

The few times slacking doesn't pay.

Of course, laziness isn't always beneficial. There are specific circumstances where the more relaxed mood in summer can cause problems, cautions Foley.

For instance, daydreaming about an upcoming vacation probably won't help people power through boring work, according to Harvard research. Therefore, while the warm months should help with substantive knowledge and creative work, this isn't the best season for massive data entry projects or assembly line tasks. If those are a large and unavoidable part of your business, you might want to skip celebrating summer chilling and move along to more traditional articles offering tips on keeping productivity high this time of year.

Also, vacations -- specifically returning from them -- can cause dips in productivity when people come back to massive email and work backlogs. Thankfully, there are plenty of radical and less radical ways to lessen the impact of vacation re-entry shock.

Personally, how do you feel the warm weather affects your productivity?

Published on: Jun 9, 2017
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