Summer ways and weather can help direct a new way...

Summer ways and weather can help direct a new way of working. Credit: Handout

Looking to boost productivity during these traditionally lazy days of summer?

With vacations in full swing, picturesque sunny days in the forecast and the lure of the beach and the great outdoors, now's the time to employ some creativity boosters to help keep workers motivated.

And what better time than summer to lighten the mood and tap into employees' creative side, say experts.

"Summer's a great time to have fun and let your hair down," explains Roy Saunderson, president of the Recognition Management Institute, a strategic consultancy and training firm in Manhattan. "We have the opportunity to take advantage of the summer's hot environment to do some cool things."

Top productivity boosters to consider:

Get the competitive juices flowing.  Whether it's the "world's largest vegetable-growing contest" or some interdepartmental sports events, contests can spur excitement, says Saunderson, author of "Giving the Real Recognition Way" (RMI, $15). Capture pictures of the veggies, participants, etc., he suggests.

Implement a summer mentoring program. Offer top performers an hour, an afternoon or a day with a mentor, suggests Saunderson, noting it could also be an ideal time to cross-train.

Have an old-fashioned company picnic or barbecue. Make it a potluck or pull from the petty cash jar for hot dogs and chips, says Saunderson. And include fun picnic games, he adds. "It's a nice reward," says Adam Richichi, office manager at The Geller Dental Group in Bellmore, which will hold its own barbecue and pool party this month for its 35 employees at owner Mark Geller's home. "It brings people together."

Embrace the outdoors. Employees want to be outside, so why not give them what they want? Take an unusual excursion or get off-site, suggests Kimberly Douglas of FireFly Facilitation Inc., an Atlanta management consulting firm. For BigBuzz Communications in Melville, this means an occasional game of Wiffle ball at a nearby field during lunch, or Mini Cooper autocross racing at an outdoor track at Nassau Coliseum, says chief executive Kevin Kelly. "We try to do interesting things," he adds.

Improve environmental conditions. Is your space too hot or poorly ventilated? asks Ellen Cooperperson, president of Corporate Performance Consultants Inc. in Hauppauge, an organizational development and performance and productivity consultancy. You'd be surprised what a difference improving the environment can make, she notes. Employees at The Geller Dental Group learned this firsthand about four years ago when the practice moved from its office in a house with limited windows to a new building with spacious views and lots of natural light. "You don't miss the outside as much," says Richichi.

Provide a summer schedule. Offer flexible summer work hours tied to productivity and reaching goals, suggests Cooperperson. For example, if employees hit their goals, then they can have a half day off on Friday, she says. "It's something to look forward to," says Kelly of BigBuzz, who last summer allowed staff to alternate half days on Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Hold a summer cleanup. Instead of a spring cleaning, do a summer office cleaning. Clear out the clutter, organize your drawers and coordinate your files, suggests Cooperperson.

Set a summer goal. Identify things you can accomplish as a team in the next 60 days, adds Douglas. Hold creativity sessions like a beach ball brainstorming session, where you toss a beach ball and ideas around, she says.

Acknowledge success. Reward your team for reaching goals with a celebration, like a barbecue or amusement park excursion, says Douglas. Celebrate small successes along the way, she adds, noting that it can be "anything that helps them recognize as a team what they accomplished."


Hot summer, cool office ideas


1. Bring in ice pops

2. Take a watermelon break

3. Have the CEO pour juice

4. Hold a water-themed day

5. Have a summer fruit or dessert social

Source: Roy Saunderson