By Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity
Sometimes I think I must be a descendent of a Celtic Rain God. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm divine or anything quite so egotistical. It's just that recently, where ever I went I seemed to bring rain, and take it away when I left.
Now I know, dear reader, that you are probably thinking that I'm just obsessed with the weather "like all Brits are". Well I recognise that we Brits do tend to talk about the weather far more than most other cultures. In fact in South East England, my highly unscientific experience, would tend to suggest the weather is an even more common topic of conversation than say North of the Boarder in Scotland. Not that 'home-town' Scots (rather than members of the Scottish Diaspora like me) still discuss the weather I suspect, more often and in more detail than most of those in Continental Europe, Asia Pacific or the Americas.
So why should I think am I a Rain God's inheritor?
Consider these occurrences, roughly in date order:
18 months ago, Praxity held it's Global Conference, it's Latin American Regional Conference and it's North American International Tax Conference in Miami, Florida. These Conferences involved my team and I being in lovely "Sunny" Miami for three weeks. Over the course of the last week, various members of the team left, but all had their last day 'free' to enjoy the beach and sun before flying home. And yes, for all of them the weather obliged, as it almost always does in South Florida.
Finally, only me and one colleague were left. On the day we were due to fly out we too planned a relaxing day off in the sun before heading for the airport. Great, except, once we were finally able to stop working that day, and headed for the beach, it started to rain. Being Brits, and made of sterner stuff (or is that simply being a bit mad), we sat on our beach loungers in the rain with the towels wrapped around us until the cold and wet forced us to abandon even this. So we got dressed and headed for the airport.
Okay, isolated incident I hear you say? Not so.
Skip forwards past two further coactions, one in Vienna another in Beijing, when whilst busy inside working, it was sunny then when any free time outside occurred it rained. Stop at Disneyland Florida in June, when attending a conference, it was, as one would expect, beautifully sunny. Then on the evening of the Networking event in and around EPCOT, it started to rain as soon as I stepped outside, and continued to rain the whole evening. To the extent that the famous fireworks were delayed for over two hours and finally were shortened to only 15 minutes because of the deluge. The half day of sun bathing prior to my return was also, just like Miami, a very wet affair.
Then, shortly thereafter, I had a chance to go to New York on business and thus planned to attend a Yankees game in the evening, my only chance for several months, and it was rained off. What good is a "rain-check" ticket if one cannot attend the re-arranged event?
If you think these may be historic events, let's get right up to date. Firstly in early May this year I visited New Orleans to scope it out both for our North American Tax Conference and to attend marketing seminars. The few initial days, whilst I was walking around what has become one of my top 5 Cities, it rained almost non-stop. If you don't believe me check out what happened to this year's Jazz fest (or Swim Fest as one joker re-named it). But as soon as I was in the seminars, the sun shone its beautiful best.
And finally, I have just had a week's 'vacation' during which, as I do most years, I built a set for a two week, outdoor, Shakespeare festival. Nine days of hard manual and artisan labour but very rewarding. Yes, you guessed it, May and June; the beginning of Summer, but it rained and drizzled everyday except that last. The last day, Sunday, lived up to it's name. Very sunny, so no complaints from me. Except that is; I had completed my work and the sun shone for the actors who were rehearsing, not the toilers and workers. So now I'm back at my desk indoors, and I can see that it is a magnificent day outside. I'd like to walk into town to buy some lunch, but I'm worried that if I do, it will start to rain, and spoil the day for those in parks and gardens trying to top up their vitamin D.
I guess there's only one way to find out.... Anyway, as we say in my native Scotland, it's actually liquid sunshine, so let's enjoy the moment. There's no rehearsal for life, you're living the one you are in, so always try to make the most of it; Even if you too are descended from a rain God (like me?).
There is a reason the weather is a go-to conversation topic, we all have it in common. Climate change and weather emergencies are faced by all cultures in every corner of the globe. This in turn builds empathy when fellow co-workers are stuck in heavy traffic due to torrential rain and the world and his wife are jumping in their cars instead of taking the 10 minute walk they would were the sun out, we go out of our way to show our understanding.
So you could say that the weather brings teams together, which got me thinking about how it could affect other elements of our work environment. In a market research survey carried out by CareerBuilder.com, twenty-one percent (21%) of workers claimed that bad weather negatively impacted their demeanour. Whilst thirty-two percent (32%) said they were happier at work when it was sunny or warm. The interesting element to this research and, one that frankly did not surprised me, was that accuracy and productivity decreased when the weather was sunny and warm.
So whilst your staff may be their happiest when the weather is warm and sunny, it seems they may also be at their least productive. But a personal plea...Don't turn the Air Con too high!!