Should you let your workforce go to the beach?

In this Connected Era, productivity springs from everywhere, anytime. But can it mix with sand, sun and surf?

Summer's here, and the workin' is... easy?

Since the dawn of the Connected Era (circa 1993), one of the most enduring fantasies is the notion that employees, managers and entrepreneurs can stay connected and productive 24x7, anywhere, anytime -- including the beach.

In fact, Joel Stein just penned a seasonally appropriate piece in BusinessWeek suggesting just that -- today's well-wired individuals can generate their deliverables from some strand somewhere on the edge of Long Island, Myrtle Beach, or Santa Cruz.

Obvious Type-A and hyper-connectivity issues aside, it just doesn't seem practical. Yes, making and receiving calls and checking email via smartphones surfside is no biggie, and now happens all the time. You can bet many a teleconference attendee has dialed in between ocean dips.

But any attempts at serious head-down productivity in the sand beyond that seems futile. For the record, I have attempted to work on a laptop while on the beach, but the sun glare was annoying, and constant fear of getting sand in the laptop a major distraction. (Some advice about taking laptops to the beach is posted here -- such as "always cover up the open portholes and slots (but not vents) located at the external side of your laptop with electric tape to keep out blowing sand and dust.")

If you're talking about working within a house, apartment, or hotel room that overlooks the ocean, however, it's a different story. There's nothing more relaxing and mentally stimulating -- and therefore productive -- than doing the work you love on a balcony or with the windows open, with the sound of the ocean in the distance -- a safe distance. Of course, then you're constantly fighting the urge to go in for a dip.

But then again, remember that the best productivity comes out of not being so productive once in a while.

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