Make It Rain: How bad weather could be good for work productivity

Topic(s): job performance, Off The Wall, performance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Rainmakers: Why bad weather means good production
Authors: Jooa Julia Lee, Francesca Gino, Bradley R. Staats
Reviewed by: Anjali Banerjee

Have you ever woken up to the sound of rain and thunder outside your window, with the decisive thought that it would be a lazy day?

Although inclement weather might not necessarily be the best thing for putting you in a great mood in the morning, a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggests that those thunderstorms just might enable you to get more work done.

BAD WEATHER VS. GOOD WEATHER

Recent research has determined that bad weather actually increases work productivity when compared to days with good weather.

The article suggests that this is because good weather can cause distractions, while bad weather forces our attention onto work projects.

Without distractions such daydreaming about playing tennis or going out on the lake to take advantage of the beautiful weather, more work generally gets accomplished.

 

HOW RAIN IMPACTS PRODUCTIVITY

The researchers studied employees at a Japanese bank and online surveys, and then 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, with 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 big bucks lost while employees daydream about a relaxing day at the beach.

 

THE BIG PICTURE TAKEAWAY

Since there is little that we can do to control the weather, how can we apply these findings to our 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 you to decide.