Beating the Summer Slump

David Anderson
David Anderson|


As a commuter, travelling to work in August is a relative pleasure: clear roads, a seat on the train, and light evenings. But as a business, keeping your performance going up, and to the right, can be a real challenge in the summer months.

According to a recent study, workplace productivity is estimated to drop 20% during the summer months. This is due to several reasons, the main one being that most people take their holiday’s during these months, especially parents of school-aged children who have little choice but to take their two-week break during the summer holidays. This can leave the office feeling empty and desolate, and who can blame you for feeling demotivated when your boss is sending you pictures of them enjoying the sunshine in the Carribean…

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to give in to this unproductive mode! Here are some tips for managing your business while half of your team are off sipping daiquiris in the sunshine: 


Plan early

Barring any contractual provisions, the Working Time Regulations require that employees give 20 days’ notice to take leave, and if the employer wishes to refuse the request, they must give notice at least 10 days before the start of the leave. These timeframes are far too short for both the company and the individual to plan effectively. So when you’ve got through Christmas, start planning for summer (and the slump)!


Be clear, fair, and consistent…

Choose a policy that takes into account both individual and business needs. Look at the data from previous summers and determine what level of resource you need in order to achieve your business goals.

If the nature of your business is such that you can’t get anything done in August, then you might want to adopt the European model and encourage or even enforce time off during this period. The last thing you want is your full team in the office treating August like a month of Friday afternoons!

What if, like many businesses, you always need a core team in place? Whilst an employee has a right to their contracted annual leave, employers have the right to refuse a request if it would affect the needs of the business. But employers do need to stick to the terms of their holiday policies and be fair and consistent to all employees. Therefore, have a clear policy that includes when leave can be taken and how many people can be off at any one time.

See tech tools that can help boost productivity (even when the sun is shining).


… but think about culture

Do you give the senior team first choice of holiday dates? Do you allow people with kids to have the right of first refusal? Do you operate a rota? Do you trust individuals to self regulate? These sort of decisions can influence your broader company culture. Therefore, make sure to factor in your company values when you set your policy.

Focus on deep work

If your business is such that the team find it hard to get their regular day-to-day work done in the summer, this period could be a great opportunity to focus on ‘Deep Work’: ‘The ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task’. When there are fewer emails, less office noise, or a slowdown in sales, encourage the team to use the opportunity to define a new strategy, develop a new idea, or solve a hard problem.

Check out these tips for turning your office into a calm, stress-free haven.


Stay lean

When dealing with summer holidays, as with most things, try to use the lean startup methodology of build, measure and learn. Set a policy, see what happens, ask for feedback, and iterate for next time.

Your work environment can serve to either motivate or demotivate your team. If you work in a dark, and cramped environment, people won’t want to go to work during the summer months (or ever). Check out these offices where you can soak up the summer sun, or browse our platform: 


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