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Research
May 1, 2014

Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity

Abstract

People believe that weather conditions influence their everyday work life, but to date, little is known about how weather affects individual productivity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we predict and find that bad weather increases individual productivity and that it does so by eliminating potential cognitive distractions resulting from good weather. When the weather is bad, individuals appear to focus more on their work than on alternate outdoor activities. We investigate the proposed relationship between worse weather and higher productivity through 4 studies: (a) field data on employees’ productivity from a bank in Japan, (b) 2 studies from an online labor market in the United States, and (c) a laboratory experiment. Our findings suggest that worker productivity is higher on bad-, rather than good-, weather days and that cognitive distractions associated with good weather may explain the relationship. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our research.

 


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