Move over, Memorial Day. The official unofficial start of summer has arrived: The Fourth of July.
School’s out and Americans across the country are prepping for a long weekend filled with fireworks, barbecues, deep-fried Kool-Aid and fun-filled getaways. Roughly 42 million Americans will travel this Independence Day, the most since 2007, according to AAA projections.
Yeah, summer’s definitely heating up. But that doesn’t mean your workplace has to cool down from a performance and productivity perspective.
We're not saying the so-called "summer slowdown" is a myth, but we're not saying it should be an excuse to slack off either. Here are 7 signs summer has arrived at your office, and how to handle them without breaking a sweat.
- Way Casual Work Attire
As the weather warms up, employees lose their sweaters and, sometimes, even their sleeves. Especially in more business casual environments, the summer months often mean more skin as hemlines creep up and attire becomes even more casual. By and large, if your culture is to trust employees to dress appropriately for their roles and responsibilities, you shouldn’t have too many issues. If you have to draw the line somewhere, short shorts, tank tops and plastic flip flops seem a logical start.
- Vacation Requests
Whether weekend getaways or weeks away, many employees take time off during the summer. Good – they should, and too many don’t. A survey conducted earlier this year said 42 percent of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day in 2014, and research from the US Travel Association says US employees surrendered 169 million vacation days – worth $50 billion in lost benefits – in 2013. When employees are overworked, it’s bad for workers, bad for their families and bad for their employers, too.
Read More About Why You Should Kick Your Employees Out of the Office
- The Dip
Some research has shown that productivity drops as much as 20 percent during the summer months. Among the main reasons: Employees dipping out early on Fridays or using “sick” days to beat traffic on their way to the beach.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to use the summer to test out flexible work arrangements. Focus on results, rather than when or where the work is done, and stress that flexibility is a privilege not a right. If you hold employees accountable, you should be able to prevent productivity from slipping too much when your employees are dipping out early.
- Everybody’s OOO
Whether it’s long weekends, family in from out of town or dropping the kids off at sleep away camp, the odd out-of-office calendar notifications have a way of cropping up with more frequency this time of year. As OOO's start filling your calendar, meetings, in turn, get harder to schedule.
Tip: 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.
- Summer Fridays
Many companies will institute some kind of summer hours or “Summer Fridays” policy, letting employees start their weekend a few hours – or even a full day – earlier during the summer months. When considering whether summer hours are right for your company, be sure to think through how to best implement this flexible scheduling so that the policy has a positive impact, rather than being a distraction.
Weigh the Pros and Cons of Summer Hours for Your Company
- Longer Lunches
Better weather means people want to be outside, and often that manifests itself in longer, group lunches. As long as it doesn’t become a problem, just roll with it. Here is another instance where you can reinforce that flexibility over when and where work gets done is a privilege that should not be abused. Tip: If you know your employees like lunching outside, consider working with your cafeteria about offering a weekly BBQ lunch. Or think about bringing in a few food trucks as a special treat. Your employees will appreciate the change of pace – and, plus, you’ll have a little more control over the timing of the lunch.
- Talking About the “Summer Slowdown”
It tends to creep into conversations, often as an excuse when clients are more difficult to get ahold of or a deadline is missed. But that’s what it is: an excuse. Summer isn’t license to slack off. When you can’t get answers, shift priorities or move on to other projects.