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Under the Weather

Climate change’s expected impact on society is well publicised. Fire, drought, flooding rains, ecosystem collapse, food scarcity... David Attenborough and other climate warriors have warned us all. But on a smaller, more personal level...how does it affect your desk job?

Studies have looked into the effect of extreme weather on our workplace productivity. The National Bureau of Economic Research found hot days lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in conflict at work. In fact, for every 1-degree temperature increase above 15 celsius, productivity falls by 1.7%.

Naturally, this is more detrimental for outdoor workplaces such as farms which have to contend with potentially wilted crops as well as more tired workers. Taking it a step further, more extreme weather increases the risk of extreme violence. Every standard deviation in temperature increases road rage, assault, murder and more serious interpersonal crimes by 2.4%. On a larger scale, each standard deviation increase in temperature in the longer term comes with an 11.4 increase in intergroup violence like civil war and gang violence. This is likely due to the economic impacts of extreme weather shifts.

A Harvard research report revealed those overcast days are best for our work ethic. The research team tracked a Japanese bank’s employees over 2.5 years and matched data with meteorological reportings. The workers completed repeatable, consistent tasks. Rainy days were correlated with a shorter time to complete each task.

Quite simply, sunny days distract us. The thought of cocktails on the beach or mountain hikes become more real when it’s sunny. They even found, those who were exposed to stimuli representing good weather, even on rainy days, decreased productivity. Yep, that Santorini screensaver is making you worse at your job.

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