When I studied the effect of weather on productivity with Harvard colleagues, we found that bad weather can bring out the best in us, as we detail in “Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity.”
We conducted three studies about how weather relates to employees’ productivity: a bank in Japan, an online labor market in the U.S. and a lab experiment. We found:
- Employees completed more work on rainy days.
- Both speed and accuracy were higher when the weather was bad.
- Employee productivity was lower on good-weather days.
Distractions were partially responsible for these effects – good weather may distract us, while we may stay focused better on bad weather days.
So what does this mean for firms? In the end, weather is a factor to be considered in locating services operations and dreary weather might be a positive.
- Greater productivity might translate into greater learning over time.
- Distractions – like the beautiful blue skies tempting you from the office window – led to higher error rates, so on sunny days you might want to avoid working on tasks in which errors would be costly.
- The number of staff allocated to a task could be increased when the weather is expected to be bad and decreased on days predicted to be sunny.