If you’re anything like me, you wake up on a rainy day and groan. After all, who wants to dig out an umbrella, commute in the rain, and go to work when the sky is grey and gloomy?

Turns out, though, there’s a benefit to heading into the office on in the rain: We all may be a little better (or at least faster) at our jobs.

According to a study by Jooa Julia Lee of Harvard University, Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, and Bradley R. Staats of the University of North Carolina, worker productivity is actually higher on days when the sun’s not shining.

The reason? The researchers found that, on gloomy days, participants were less likely to be distracted by thoughts of outdoor activities and more able to focus. In other words, instead of glancing out the window every five minutes wishing you were soaking up the rays, you’re more likely to be able to stay engaged with the work in front of you (since, let’s be honest, you’d rather not be outside).

Despite the widespread belief that bad weather conditions are related to low productivity, we provide compelling evidence that people are less productive on good weather days because their attentional resources are more likely to be depleted when they have more choices (i.e., outdoor activities), and face higher opportunity costs of being indoors.

Okay, so it sounds a little depressing, but think of it as an opportunity. Next time it’s dreary outside, instead of feeling bummed, try to stay on task and get ahead on some of your work. As a bonus, you’ll earn some brownie points with the boss—so on a beautiful day when you’d really like to slip out a little early? You might just have a better shot.


Photo of umbrella courtesy of Shutterstock.