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Why Bad Weather May Boost Office Productivity

A new research paper by business school professors Bradley Staats, Jooa Julia Lee and Francesca Gino finds that bad weather may actually increase workplace productivity, according to Knowledge@Wharton.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.13.09 AMThe paper, titled Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity, notes that typically, people associate bad weather with low productivity. The researchers “decided to challenge that hypothesis, and wondered if bad weather would actually increase productivity. That led them to look at whether there might a lack of distractions when the weather was bad.”

Said Staats: “When you are sitting in your office and staring out at an 80-degree day, [you might think,] ‘I’d really like to be out in that,’ when it’s dumping rain or [you’re] in a blizzard, you might say, ‘What the heck? Why not focus on the work that is here in front of me?’ It’s innately human to see a distraction and want to go take part in it. If we can find ways to limit that, then we can improve productivity.”

“That hypothesis proved right in three studies the paper’s authors conducted. In one, they looked at productivity data of a Japanese bank over several years. Here, they found evidence that bad weather (rain, in this case) meant better productivity. For their second study, they formed two groups of Harvard students exposed to sunny days and rainy days, respectively, and studied their productivity.”