Has cold weather actually helped productivity?

When the weather drops, snow starts to fall and daylight quickly fades, it may feel like most people become less productive. Certainly in the winter – more so than many other seasons – it is tempting to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book, rather than put in some time on that work project or sift through countless emails.

However, that may not be the whole story. In fact, new research from colleagues at the Harvard Business Review has found that employees in the winter may actually be more productive than their summertime counterparts, which is contrary to popular belief and the mindset taken into the original study. 

It is important for a small business owner to remember that there are a number of factors that impact worker productivity. Yes, sound operational strategies, incentives and other elements will provide a boost to any financial plan, but outside the windows, the weather could be more valuable than one might have thought. 

Winter weather may be better for employees
Francesca Gino, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, wrote in a blog post for the HBR about her and her colleagues research into winter weather and its effects on worker productivity. They found that it may result in a more efficient workforce than one might think.

For the study, Gino and the other researchers asked 200 adults about the impact weather could have on productivity. An overwhelming number said warm temperatures would improve that aspect, and the winter would hurt it. To answer that question, meteorological data and information from employers were analyzed. Surprisingly, they discovered that rain resulted in a fair decrease in the amount of time it took a person to complete a task at work. Also, low visibility and extreme temperatures had a similar result. On the other hand, clear, sunny days were closely correlated to low productivity levels.

How can this information help a company build a solid financial plan? Gino explained that employers could assign certain tasks depending on the weather. Clerical work could be left for the nice days, while other, more intensive jobs could be saved for that next rainy Tuesday. In addition, it may be helpful to save days off for the summer, instead of staying away from work when the snow starts to pile up.

Find creative ways to keep employees productive
Thankfully for small business owners, there are plenty of financial tips and other bits of advice that they can control a lot better than the weather. In fact, implementing a few creative strategies could be extremely beneficial to overall productivity. 

According to Patrick Hull, contributor to Forbes, motivated employees can be seriously helpful to a company. In order to retain more of these workers, it may be wise for business owners to offer up some bonuses, for example. Most people tend to respond positively to financial incentives, as opposed to other performance-based rewards. That means a little boost here or there could be exactly what a small business needs. Those other perks shouldn't be left behind, though. Casual days at the office, parties and other social events could help build camaraderie and improve productivity.

Moreover, positive reinforcement is a must for any organization. The more employees' hard work is recognized in public, the better. Everyone wants to be complimented on a job well done, and doing so in the spotlight will be a good way to keep people on track and working hard. In fact, this strategy is often cost-effective and easy to implement, which means it won't take a negative toll on a financial plan.

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