5 Tips for Fighting the Summer Slump and Boosting Productivity


We all feel the pull of summer. The sun is out and the trees are a lush green. There are a million things you could be doing, from a round of golf to a bike tour down the coast. And when it’s this beautiful outside, it’s tough to feel excited about spending the day in an office. So how can business leaders keep productivity up, encourage employee engagement, and reign in their own imagination during a summer weekday?

Here are five ways to beat the summer blues and maintain good vibes while you’re on the clock.

How to Motivate Yourself and Your Coworkers This Summer

1. Get outside.

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, just seeing the color green boosts motivation and jump-starts creativity. Fortunately, there are many ways you can include a little green in your daily routine.

Try inviting a coworker for a walk during your lunch break, eat lunch outside, or ride your bike to work. Even if you’re too overwhelmed for a long break, simply find a desk with a view outdoors and take a minute to breathe.

A Stanford University study found that walking meetings can improve creativity by an average of 60%, so if you want to energize your colleagues, schedule your next one-on-one outside. As a bonus, you’ll boost blood circulation to the brain, which could help you feel more focused throughout the day.

2. Exercise.

Want a fool-proof way to way to feel better? Sweat. The University of Essex found that people feel better overall after spending as little as five minutes exercising outdoors. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins like dopamine, which has the added benefit of  inspiring people to work harder.

If running and other high-intensity sports are intimidating, try yoga or swimming. The key is to find an activity you like. You might choose hiking, biking, or kayaking, depending on your preferences and what’s readily accessible in your location—but any form of exercise has the potential to improve your work habits.

If you want to build a more collaborative team dynamic, you can also try organizing a company activity, such as a recreational softball league or orienteering. Studies have shown that employees who have positive interactions with coworkers are more engaged with their work, resulting in higher productivity.

3. Change your schedule.

In the 1960s, advertising agencies began to notice a dip in employee productivity on Fridays, and while it may seem obvious, this was the first time there was hard data to back up the general lack of motivation people experience before a summer weekend. Summer Fridays were introduced to increase employee engagement and creativity—and they typically also inspire loyalty and raise the retention rate.

If your company does not partake in this tradition, you can still advocate for a more flexible schedule. Scheduling flexibility allows employees to vary their arrival or departure time and doesn’t follow the traditional 9AM to 5PM, 40-hour workweek.

Here are some examples of scheduling flexibility that are easy to implement:

  • Let employees work remotely instead of taking time off if they need to travel.
  • Invite employees to work from home for one day a week.
  • Offer an alternate schedule, like working 10AM-6PM or 8AM-4PM.
  • Give employees the option to work four 10-hour shifts a week.

These flexible hours not only boost motivation, but they also instill a greater sense of agency and trust.

4. Take that vacation—and have a plan for your return.

productivityIsn’t there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Start putting your fantasy getaway into action. Traveling to a new place, creating new experiences, and enjoying a different culture all give you a new perspective and help you think creatively. A study published in the Harvard Business Review demonstrates that 94% of workers who took a vacation said they had more energy when they returned to work. Planning a trip gives you something to look forward to, and it provides a refreshing change of pace.

Getting back into a routine after you’ve been away can be a challenge, however. Keep your schedule open for at least one day after you return from a vacation—this gives you a buffer period to take care of small tasks and respond to emails before you jump into a full schedule.

5. Be positive!

Positivity is one of the greatest driving forces of employee motivation, so inject a little fun into your daily routine. Research has shown that employee happiness boosts productivity by 31% and can increase sales by 37%.

Use the Summer to Evaluate Your Priorities and Thrive

Study after study proves that productivity drops during the summer when the weather is warm and people would prefer to spend their time outdoors. But you can put an effective plan in place to offset some of the circumstances that make it harder to focus.

If you continue to feel unmotivated at work, this could speak to larger underlying problem—and in that case, you might want to consider a career change that challenges and inspires you. To find your next “stretch role,” look at Ivy Exec’s curated job board for high-achieving professionals. Sometimes the key to unlocking the next level in your career is to find a new employer.

Is getting a new job the secret to earning a higher salary?


About the Author

Genevieve Pfeiffer is a NYC-based freelance writer and content marketer, and holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more about her projects and work.