Brighten summer work life for you and your co-workers

It’s difficult to stay focused on work when the sun is shining and outdoor activities compete with tasks that need to be done. Why fight it? Take advantage of good weather and use it for building your team, changing your attitude, or giving yourself a break.

Here are some ideas from my summer notebook (or whenever the season is favorable in your part of the country):

·        Take a vacation! If you're one of those folks who doesn't take days off because you love your work (entrepreneurs are especially guilty of this) consider how unfair that is for your family. They don't love your work. In fact, they may have given up a lot of quality time as a family while you spend countless hours building your business. So, how about leaving it behind for a week or two and spending time with them?

·        Take your vacation without a pager, laptop or other link to your business life. If you feel that the wheels of commerce will grind to a halt if you are out of immediate reach, you may be suffering from one of two afflictions. First, you may have an inflated opinion of yourself; thinking that you are the only one who can do things right. Second, you may be limiting the growth of your business and your people. Chose someone who can be your backup and leave instructions that you are only to be interrupted if it is an emergency.

·        Have a picnic with your team out on the lawn or at a nearby park. Whether the group orders sandwiches from a local deli or they bring their own, it will be a change of pace that everyone will appreciate. It doesn’t require a lot of planning or fussing. Just pick a date and do it.

·        Have your staff meeting in a refreshing new location. Have rolls and coffee at someone's house, choose a local restaurant or sit under a tree.

·        Get up a little early during the summer months and take your morning coffee outside on your front porch or in the back yard. If you don't have a yard, or much outdoor space, buy a small pot of flowers or plant a window box. It will be a welcome site each day as you sit outside gathering your thoughts before the day begins.

·        Plan a summer outing for your team. Take a fishing trip, go to a baseball game, go to the zoo, have a picnic, go on a golf outing, have a barbecue at someone's house...whatever the group thinks will be fun.

·        Have a "walking meeting." If you are planning a meeting with someone, and it's a nice day, why not get out of the office and take a long walk while you discuss your business? It's healthier than spending another hour sitting, and it's likely to stimulate some fresh ideas.

·        Give employees tickets to events. They will enjoy spending time with family and friends and will be pleased to see that their efforts are appreciated. Gift certificates to their favorite restaurants, sporting events, festivals and other outings can garner a lot of good will.

·        If you have a garden, cut some flowers and bring them in to work. They can be a great stress-reliever as you enjoy them throughout the day. Or, why not surprise someone you would like to thank? Don't wait until an official day of appreciation such as Secretaries Day or Boss's Day. Give someone a fresh bouquet just because you appreciate him or her.

·        And speaking of gardens, if you ask around, there is a good chance that co-workers who have vegetable gardens will have an over abundance of vegetables around harvest time. Suggest that the group have it's own "farmer's market." If you really want to have a team effort, decide in advance who will plant what vegetable and create a bountiful harvest with everyone chipping in with one or two vegetables from their home garden (and perhaps even a contest for the biggest vegetables).

·        Another idea is to create a garden at the office, if there is any grassy area that can be converted into the team garden. It can be a great source of team fun and camaraderie as they take turns caring for the plot and enjoying fresh produce. If an outside garden isn’t possible, plant an inside window garden.

·        Have a potluck lunch and invite everyone to bring his or her favorite summer dish.

·        Have an impromptu ice cream social. On your way back to the office, stop and pick up some ice cream for a special treat.

·        Establish summer hours. Ask your staff how best to structure the work to enable people to maximize their weekends, while still meeting goals and providing good service.

·        Have a theme party. For example, everyone wears something from his or her favorite vacation and they bring photos to show.

Does this sound like a big waste of productive work time? I don’t think so. One of the things I hear from people is that they want a sense of community and "family" at work. They also want to have more fun. Why not make the workplace a place that cares about the whole person, not just the work they can produce. I notice that teams who play well together tend to produce better together, too.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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