Bad Weather Can Be Good for Employee Productivity

Topic(s): job performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Rainmakers: Why bad weather means good production
Authors: J.J. Lee, F. Gino, B.R. Staats
Reviewed by: Anjali Banerjee

Although inclement weather might not necessarily be the best thing for putting people in a great mood in the morning, a recent study (Lee, Gino, & Staats, 2014) suggests that those thunderstorms just might enable people to get more work done. The article suggests that this is because good weather can cause distractions (for example, daydreaming about being outside), while bad weather forces our attention onto work projects.


The researchers studied employees at a Japanese bank and compared their findings with archival data on the weather for the area. They found that when people perceive the weather to be bad, they think of fewer non-work activities to do, and they find these activities less attractive than when the weather is good. Most intriguingly, they found that bad weather often results in enhanced speed, accuracy, and productivity among workers. On the other hand, there was an average of a 1.3% decrease in productivity on bright sunny days. At first this might not sound like an incredible impact on workplace efficiency. But over time and across an organization, endless days of good weather could translate into a substantial amount of money.


Since there is little that we can do to control the weather, how can we apply these findings to organizations? As this study suggests that good weather provides distractions and lessens work productivity, we can attempt to offset this effect by providing breaks on good weather days. If possible, structuring work projects to take these effects into account could help take advantage of the increased productivity created by bad weather and avoid the negative influences of good weather. The researchers even suggested that, ultimately, it might be advantageous to select locations for the organization that have frequent bad weather. Whether that’s practical or not is for the reader to decide.