Most of us look forward to summer because the weather is warmer, the opportunities for fun abound, and vacation is often synonymous with the season. Summer is also a time when productivity could take a slump, because people are busy daydreaming about their next summer jaunt, and not as motivated to put in as many hours of work. What can you do as a leader to keep your team engaged this summer?
Map Out a Plan You will definitely want to take a look at and plan out summer dates well in advance to avoid any conflicts. It might be helpful to sit down as a group and map out every team member’s planned vacation time, note any other leaves on the schedule such as sabbaticals, medical or maternity leaves, and look for any potentially challenging overlaps that could create gaps in service or workload.
This may be an ideal time to encourage team members to plan thoughtfully for any other summer events that might affect their workflow. Are family or friends coming into town at some point? Is there a concert or special event a team member might want to leave early for? What will be your best strategy for handling potential half-days or flex schedules? Establish parameters for these types of events and be clear on your expectations for team members on whether you will expect them to make up time in other ways.
This is an opportunity to have very open communication about expectations and determine priorities as far as workloads and coverage. Does it work best for everyone to take vacation at the same time and have your business closed for a period of time? Or do you prefer to stagger certain team member’s PTO in a way that ensures coverage is always available? If you do this as a group, hopefully you can get everyone on the same page.
Summer Hours Maybe you’ve decided to shift your office schedule to summer hours. Some offices choose to adjust their schedules to either work more time Monday through Thursday so that they can close early on Friday, or take the whole day off, and sometimes offices choose to shorten their hours entirely for the summer months. Would this be a good fit for your company’s culture? While it can cramp workloads, it can also increase employee engagement and commitment because they appreciate the benefit.
Prepare for Time out of Office Now that you’ve got a schedule mapped out, figure out what activities need to happen in the few weeks prior to planned time off. Will someone need to fill in for you? Ensure that you have that coverage well in advance.
Also, do yourself a favor and block out your calendar for the day or two before you leave, and the first couple days back in the office so you have time to wrap up on the front end and catch up on the back end. If you’re setting an OOO auto-reply on your email, you may want to include those extra days as well.
Are you planning on working remotely while you’re gone? Being available if something urgent comes up? Technology is a useful tool for allowing us to stay connected. Whether you’re planning on staying connected or fully disconnecting, set the right expectations with your team members (and anyone else who may try to reach you while you’re gone).
Prioritize It is natural for productivity to slump during the summer months; people want to get out of the office earlier and enjoy the summer days. Rather than focus on how many hours are being put in at the office, turn your focus to output. Set ambitious goals and manage them on a daily and weekly basis.
Stay focused on your priorities.
Also, because summer months can be slow for new incoming work, take advantage and use any extra time to get a headstart on future projects you may already be aware of, or to tackle those projects which require more in-depth thinking and analysis that may have been sitting on your to-do list for a while.
Summer is also the perfect time to prepare for fall. While summer may be the season of mellow around the office, things often ramp up in the fall. Start prepping in August so you're prepared for whatever fall may bring.
Get Outdoors! With a little ingenuity, you can find ways to take your work outside and enjoy the outdoors which, in turn, can amp up productivity and wellness within the office. Sounds like a win-win, right?
One way to get your team outside is to hold walking meetings, either one-on-one or in smaller groups. Or, just grab a bench to sit on and enjoy the sunshine. Need to take a conference call? Why not walk and talk? Just remember to warn people on the other end of the line that you’re heading outside in case of any background noise that might crop up.
Enjoy the Sunshine! One of the greatest benefits of summer is there are more daylight hours to enjoy! Wake up earlier and seize the day. Get in some exercise or meditation to start your day. Likewise, plan a walk with your family or a friend after dinner to help you unwind from a day’s work.
Summer offers a multitude of experiences and events to help us unwind and take a break from the grind. Be very honest and forthcoming on your expectations of what summer can and should look like in regards to workflow and vacations, for both you and your team. Once you’ve established some ground rules, there will be ample opportunities for work and play.