Can Short Summer Hours Increase Productivity?

What do you think:  Can short summer hours increase productivity?

In my opinion, absolutely!  Why?  Because it gives people something to look forward to and the summer is a great time for people to get outdoors, enjoy the health impacts of more activity and socializing.  There is no question that summer is an ideal time to work less and enjoy more of life!  And for parents, it would give them more time to spend with their children.  Too, people, in general, slow down in the summer – the heat does have an impact on the ability of people to function and to think even in air-conditioned spaces. Therefore, even though people are showing up for their eight-hour day, their productivity is generally lower.

Let’s say a company had “summer hours” . To be fair to the company, there would, of course,  either be an adjustment in the number of hours worked somewhere along the line perhaps in the Winter months when the company is operating at peak levels or a deduction in salary.  With today’s technology, it’s not so difficult to track people’s time.  It would become company policy.  As long as suppliers and clients were informed of the summer hours, there would likely be no issue there either.  Yes, I know, some companies’ busy time is the summer, however, shorter hours would likely help here or alternative work hours to battle the effects of heat.

This is one way that companies can add flexibility to their environments without affecting the bottom line.  And a way for companies to get employees “recharged” for the busiest periods.  People always feel better when they have the time to spend with their friends and family, relax, and “reset”.

How does this affect people’s health in other ways? Heat has detrimental effects on the body which can affect a person’s efficiency.  Effects on the workplace can also include:

  • aggressive behavior towards co-workers causing more conflict
  • lower levels of patience affects the ability to deal with small problems and take the time to properly complete tasks
  • people feeling more burdened by work as people feel more listless and tired in heat

Air conditioners are not the panacea either.  They can:

  • aggravate chronic conditions such as arthritis and neuritis
  • cause sinus trouble
  • increase susceptibility to colds, flue and other minor ailments
  • stress is caused by being forced to go from a boiling hot environment into an air conditioned one – they are not able to cope with hot summer temperatures

Based on these effects on people’s health alone, companies would be wise to adopt shorter summer hours – there is no question that any one of these factors affects productivity.

Can short summer hours increase productivity?  Absolutely! If we consider the effects of summer heat has on people, that alone is enough to warrant an adjustment in hours.

Resources:

http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/heat_health.html

http://coolbandanas.com/heatstress.htm

http://www.essortment.com/all/airconditioning_rvht.htm

Lorraine Arams
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