New research: Workers are more productive when it snows

When bad weather hits, workers get more productive. That’s the finding of new research that marries real world and laboratory data to show that the mere prospect of frolicking in the sun — even when workers stay at their desks — interrupts focus, slows task time and leads to greater error rates.

“The greater the amount of rain, the better you are at completing a task,” said Jooa Julia Lee, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Law School who conducted the research with scholars from the business schools at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The productivity pattern holds for snow, too.

The research, published last year in The Journal of Applied Psychology, drew partly from data generated over two and a half years at a midsize Japanese bank in Tokyo. The study looked at 111 workers performing various data-entry tasks, generally menial, allowing researchers to capture the precise time it took the workers to finish a job and move to the next.