Look at that beautiful blue sky out there, and all those puffy white clouds. I wish I were kicked back on a beach somewhere with that novel I've been trying to find time to read since January. Well, only two more weeks until my vacation, and then I can finally get in some much-needed relaxation time! Maybe I can take a long lunch today, go on a walk for some fresh air. I wonder if anyone will notice ...
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We've all been victims of these types of thoughts a during the summer, when the beautiful weather and empty offices leave us feeling restless. It can be difficult to remain productive when it seems like everyone else is out on vacation. But hey, that's just the annual summer slump. Nothing to be done, right?
Keeping Productivity Up During the Summer Months
Proactive managers don't have to sit back and accept that business will be slow during the summer months.
"To avoid confusion and workflow disruptions, set ground rules like giving advanced notice before trips so managers can account for fluctuating employee availability," says Dennis Collins, senior director of marketing for West's Unified Communications Services (West UC), a provider of communications technology solutions. "Once schedules are established, employees should let managers know the best way to contact them on vacation and make arrangements for coworkers to cover specific tasks or inbound requests while they're out. This guarantees supervisors, employees, and clients are on the same page about how and when work will be completed during the summer months."
Instead of vacation-shaming employees to get them to stay in the office or giving up on a productive summer, managers and executives must expect that things will run a bit differently in the summer. It's possible to tip the work-life balance scale toward the life side without sacrificing business efficiency, but only if workers are equipped for success.
"While most small businesses can't give employees two months of summer vacation, providing flexible work options can make your team happier and more productive," Collins says. "Summer hours and work-from-home days not only contribute to a healthier work-life balance, but they also serve as extra incentive for employees to meet deadlines and complete assignments on time."
Happy employees are more productive and more loyal, so taking steps to allow for flexible work is in the long-term best interests of the business and the bottom line.
"To balance the staff's work preferences with business needs, employers should make it easy for employees to connect with colleagues and access documents regardless of where they are," Collins says.
For flexible work arrangements that truly lead to productive summer months, employers will need to ensure workers have the tools they need to host meetings, view important files, and collaborate on assignments no matter where they are. Collins also suggests investing in a communication platform that will record and archive meetings so employees can access any information they may have missed if they couldn't attend.
While managers can implement some of these suggestions immediately, there's a better approach for future summers: Engage employees early in the year to determine their summer needs.
"In general, it's best to over-communicate to ensure everyone is on the same page and work doesn't fall off the radar," Collins says.
With the right amount of organization and planning, a summer slump can turn into a summer jump.
"The right combination of workday flexibility and digital connectivity ... ensures companies get the most out of their employees despite the busy vacation season," Collins says. "By leveraging communication tools and encouraging a more autonomous workplace, small businesses can keep their teams engaged even during the dog days of summer."