Productivity v. The Elements

We all know that weather affects our mood. The average person can pick up on this. People tend to be happier when temperatures are agreeable and the sun is shining, and they’re restless when it’s too hot, cold, or humid. Several studies have been performed to determine the exact correlation. The research hasn’t been definitive, but rough assumptions can be made.

As business professionals, we can (and should) take queues from Mother Nature as we plan our projects. Using the Midwest United States as a guide, and referencing the sources below, it seems the following is true:

HotIrritability Irritability Optimism Irritability
WarmProductivity Productivity Distractibility Distractibility
CoolProductivity Productivity Productivity Distractibility
ColdDiscomfort Discomfort Discomfort Optimism
This chart depicts the mental state of workers based on the temperature (y-axis) and weather condition (x-axis), but it does not take severe weather into account.

What does this mean?

Initially, you may think productivity would be at an all-time high on bright, beautiful days. However, the reality is that most people want to enjoy those days outside of work. They want to be shopping, attending sporting events, or working in the garden. While they may be more cheerful, they aren’t likely to be focusing all of their energy on creating spreadsheets or calling customers.

High heat and bitter cold can also be problematic. Luckily, we have air conditioning and furnaces to combat this, but they don’t solve everything. This may be because people are too uncomfortable to care about working. Or maybe, they’re worrying about having to deal with the weather after they leave the office.

This all suggests that rainy, warm or cool days might be perfect for getting things done. These days save you money on heating and cooling, and the lack of sunny-day opportunities creates less distractions. However, sunshine is still very important to our health and wellbeing. Too many cloudy days can really bring us down, and that’s not productive in the slightest.

How is this helpful?

Perhaps we should plan to use the rainy and cloudy days for clerical work. We could focus on our budgeting or research tasks and save the pretty days for meetings, cleaning, and high-energy duties. During the peak summer and winter months, it might be best to prioritize comfort over productivity. Make sure you and your team have enough energy to get through the seasons by loosening strict dress codes or hosting events.

Get creative and remember that if the weather is affecting you, it’s probably affecting those around you too.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this! Do the studies hold their own? What is the best season for your team?


Scroll to Top