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By the time we are adults, Amundson said, it’s more a matter of attention span than cognitive sliding. Sometimes in the workplace, it can even emanate from the top.
“If the boss is more laid-back in summer months, that lends itself to employees,” she said.
Some companies alter office hours in the summer, offering four-day workweeks or shorter hours on Fridays, ostensibly to boost flagging morale.
Productivity might still suffer, Pelley said. She cited a Captivate Network survey finding that 49 percent of employees working “summer schedules” report decreased productivity in the workplace, including 80 percent of those in offices that close early on Fridays.
Mind games people play
Actual time off can be a boost to our productivity — especially if we really get away from it all, Pelley said.
“We all know what happens the minute you turn on a device, or hear an e-mail ping, or start thinking, ‘I didn’t get that last document done before I left,’ ” Pelley said. And then we’re back at work.
Amundson, too, is a big believer in the rejuvenation potential of time away from work.
“Vacation is necessary and recharges us,” she said. “There are studies that say you need to get away. … But you should come back recharged and creative.”
It’s not just vacation that makes us feel better: Summer does that all by itself, but probably not as much as we think.
“Our perception is that we are more productive and more physically fit” in summer, she said. “We have longer days. We are outside more, more active. When it comes down to it, that’s just a perception, but probably not reality.”
That’s something to remember … if we can.
Bill Ward • 612-673-7643