I manage the marketing team in our corporate office. I’m noticing a summertime strain of cabin fever. My team seems to be lethargic and our meetings are not as productive as usual – the ideas just aren’t flowing. Do you have any insight?
Dear “Making Hay While the Sun Shines,”
I can understand this outbreak of summer doldrums in your office. Kids are having fun at camps, emails to coworkers come back with an OOO (Out of Office) auto-reply, and friends are posting sun-drenched travel photos on Facebook. It’s enough to turn anyone green with vacation envy.
Back in the 1960s, advertising agencies noticed a decrease in productivity as summer weekends approached. Taking a “why fight it” approach, agencies instituted half-day Summer Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The practice, which fanned out to other industries, has pros and cons; while an early release Friday may push employees to complete more in four hours, the casual atmosphere could lead to slacking off. If your company can’t institute half-day Fridays across the board, encourage your team to take vacation days or PTO to enjoy spending time with family and friends in the glorious weather.
Your “bored” room meetings may be an indicator the team is in a rut. And who would feel inspired in a stagnant conference room? Generally geared for projectors and screens, there’s little natural light. Health care tech company Epic Systems headquarters has on its campus a whimsical treehouse employees may use for a stimulating meeting space. The Japanese believe the practice of shinrin-yoku (literally “forest bathing”) increases the ability to focus, among other benefits. A study in collaboration with Outward Bound found that after a four-day immersion in nature (and disconnection from technology), creative reasoning and problem-solving improved by 50%. While taking your marketing department on a four-day hike may not be feasible, simply walking your weekly meeting to a nearby park or an alfresco lunch can spur breakthrough thinking. Stanford University studies found walking increases creativity by 81%, 88%, even 100%.
A full-blown fun-in-the-sun team-building event may be the catalyst for your creative team’s breakthrough. See my blog post, “Make Team-Building a Picnic,” to get your staffers out of the workaday environment and into natural surroundings for a day of productive play. Infusing the event with a tropical theme (Hawaiian shirts, mocktails with umbrellas, and team sand-castle building) may help chase away that summer slump.
Readers: What’s your cure for the summertime blues at work?
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