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How weather affects productivity (you can always blame the bad days on the weather)

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It’s raining outside. The raindrops keep hitting window glass like tiny stones making an unusually comforting noise while the wind is roaring, trying to burst through and surround you.

It’s 7 A.M. already, but still so dark, you feel like the night is never going to end. In the back of your mind you know that you have to get up and get ready for work, but don’t want to leave the coziness of your bed.

It’s so warm and comfortable that the mere thought of pushing your blanket away drives the cold into your body. You tuck the blanket tighter around yourself, thinking that it would be fine to be late for work today, just a little bit... and drift away for a few more minutes of sleep enveloped in the warmth of your blanket...

Sounds familiar? That’s right. This is what most people feel like on rainy, cold days (including me) and their willingness to get up and go to work goes down a lot. Even after you do get up and leave for work, the grim, dark, cold weather doesn’t allow your body to fully awaken and by no means lightens your mood, let alone increase your willingness to work.

Even when you arrive at the office it’s still dark and raining. Soaking wet, the only thing you are thinking about is a  hot cup of coffee  and a way to dry yourself. Not the best mood or condition to be on to start working right away, don’t you agree?

Weather and productivity linkage has been researched a lot by different studies. While everyone reported somewhat different results (and this is no surprise since all people are different and react to various factors differently) there are two most common results:

  • Hot,  sunny weather  increases productivity, but people get demotivated for work since there is so much distraction outside (a simple walk in the park, beach, etc)
  • Cold,  rainy weather  decreases productivity, but people generally tend to work more on those days, simply because there isn’t much to be looking forward to

While these two results seem to contradict each other (surprise, surprise! More contradictions) they are rather logical. When the weather outside looks and feels good, most people get into a positive mood and a positive mood is a good factor when it comes to working.

A positive mood makes you think about everything lightly and your glass is always half full, not half empty. Whether there is a task to complete or a complicated matter to be solved, being in a good mood makes you think that everything will be fine.

It’s easier to get to the office on clear days because there are no traffic jams, you don’t feel as much need to lay bed longer, etc.

On the contrary, a negative mood makes you perceive everything on the negative side: the task just cannot be managed on time, “what a stupid thing I am doing right now, why would you even need to do this?”, “oh, another meeting, I am so fed up with those”. Everything just feels out of place.

This being said, let’s take a look at the other side of the matter:

  • 12% of workers admit that they tend to extend their lunch breaks during good weather

  • Workers tend to leave the office on average twice more during good weather

  • 40% of men are more likely to consume an alcoholic drink during sunny weather

Looking at these numbers, we can clearly see that good weather might get you into a positive mood, but it doesn’t only apply to work. People want to have more fun when it’s sunny and hot.

For comparison, during cold times there isn’t too much to be looking forward to when it comes to outdoor activities or thinking about where to go after work for relaxation. While a negative mood affects overall productivity greatly, it doesn’t stop the rain and cold outside, so employees tend to stay at the office longer, where it’s dry and warm.

What we gather from this

So overall, people tend to call in sick and arrive at the office late when it’s colder outside but tend to stay overtime and concentrate on the work more, due to there being no distractions.

On the other hand, sunny days are much more positive and put you in a positive mood, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the working process is going to  be more productive.

That being said, there are some people who don’t really care about the weather outside and their productivity doesn’t suffer or increase due to it. But mostly, when something isn’t working out and the rain won’t stop outside, you can always blame the lack of motivation on the bad weather, especially in Canada. The cold weather is always there to back you up =)

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