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  • 7 August 2014
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Summer slackers - does the hot weather affect productivity?

As the mercury rises, there are a number of impacts on office staff. Whether it is disputes over climate controls or laxity of lunch hours, the summer sun can adversely affect staff’s working environment and mentality. 

A survey conducted by One Poll on behalf of air conditioning and heating specialists, Andrews Sykes Hire, has revealed how hot conditions affect productivity in the workplace. The study, which questioned 2,000 office staff on their summer working habits, found that 30% of workers exceed their designated lunch breaks by nearly 13 minutes during the summer. These 13 minutes a day adds up to more than an hour wasted per week or 4.3 over the course of a month. 

It also found:

  • Workers leave the office on average 2.3 days per week, during the summer months.
  • 18-24 year olds were the most likely to admit to lengthening lunches, twice as likely as those 55+, though the elder group said they took longer.
  • The 45-54 age group admitted to taking the longest lunch breaks.
  • 12% admitted to extending lunch breaks by more than 20 minutes during fair weather.

According to the study, men are 7% more likely to stretch their lunch break and took, on average, 12% longer than their female counterparts. It found that 40% of men reported being more likely to have an alcoholic drink during their summer lunch breaks, as compared to a third of women. More than half of 18-24 year olds were likely to drink during lunch hours. The likelihood of drinking during lunch decreases with age - down to only 19% of those aged 55+.

Working attire could also present productivity problems, with more than half of respondents restricted to formal work wear feeling uncomfortable in the summer heat. Conversely, 56% of respondents who were able to wear a relaxed dress code said they felt more comfortable.

Research found:

  • Only a quarter of respondents had a relaxed dress code during hot weather.
  • Men are only marginally (7%) less comfortable with working attire than women.
  • Those with a formal dress code were the most likely to have office disputes over temperature - around a third claimed to have argued with a colleague on this issue.

The impact of fair weather is palpable for office workers - those with a rigid, formal dress code are the least likely to work overtime during the summer (3%), as opposed to 16% of those with casual dress codes willing to stay late to complete work.

Whether it’s the provision of effective temperature control systems, a dress code change, as already called for by the Trades Union Congress, or a crackdown on lunchtime laxity, summer adaptations to office regimes seem likely to deliver improvements in staff morale and efficiency.

We want to hear your views on this. Have you implemented different policies for the summer months to ensure productivity remains high? Do they work? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter.