It seems like the hotter it is, the less productive we are. In fact, studies have shown that hot weather can negatively impact productivity at work by up to 20%, and increase distraction levels by up to 45%.
Depending on where you are based, it’s either spring or fall right now. Or, if you are a nomad maker, you are one of the lucky few that can pick and choose where to live based on your personal preferences. But which is best – the weather that makes you feel more comfortable, or the one that makes you more productive?
While hot weather can have a negative impact on your productivity, not everything is bad about summertime. In fact, it’s possible to engineer the perfect conditions to maximise your productivity. The room you work from needs to be cool and bright.
It’s all about the light
The amount of daylight you get is particularly important. Not only will it impact your performance at work, but also the quality of your sleep and overall quality of life.
Ideally, you will want to have lots of natural light, for example by sitting by a window. If you are working from home, it’s easy to just move your desk, but if you work from an office, there are usually only a lucky few that can see the sky while working away on their laptop. According to the American Society Of Interior Design, 68% of workers complain about the lighting in their office.
It is actually tricky to get right: both dim lights and high-intensity electrical lights put a strain on the eyes. In fact, some studies have found that artificial lights in the workplace could be one of the major causes of migraine headaches amongst workers. So, if you are working from an office, make sure to take breaks and walk outside, so you can rest your lights and ensure you get enough daylight.
If you want to read more about the impact of light on your productivity, Philips sponsored a whole report about Lighting, Well-being and Performance at Work, in partnership with the University of London. Given the sponsor and that we already know that natural light is the best solution but is not available to everyone, the report focuses on artificial light and details the impact of various technologies.
The ideal temperature
Office workers are not happy either about the temperature at their workplace. In fact, 80% of them complain about their office being too hot or too cold. If you have worked in an office, you know how much time is wasted discussing the air conditioning.
So, if you had the freedom to choose the ideal temperature to maximise your well-being and your productivity, which one would you choose? According a survey, the average British worker’s ideal workplace temperature is 21°C or 70°F. If you are working from home, you have more flexibility. But if you are in an office, setting the temperature to this one and not changing it will avoid many unproductive conversations in the office.
Make it rain
Some research goes as far as to suggest that rainy days are best for productivity, and it’s not hard to see why: less distractions, less temptations. This is not possible for everyone, but you can make this work to your advantage by having a flexible work schedule.
Look at the weather forecast for the week and save the tasks that require the most work for rainy days. Use sunny days to recharge and get away from your laptop earlier in the day.
“Although weather conditions are exogenous and uncontrollable, (…) assign more clerical work on rainy days than sunny days to tap into the effects of bad weather on productivity, assigning work [on sunny days] that does not require sustained attention but does allow for more flexibility in thinking,” the researchers wrote.
We all differ in our work habits and perceptions, but the weather definitely has an impact on our productivity. In summary, try to get as much daylight as possible in your workplace, keep the temperature around 21°C or 70°F, and assign high-intensity tasks to rainy day, keeping lighter or more creative work for sunny days.