07/21/2011 02:31 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2011

Survey Says: It's Summer. Do You Know Where Your Employees Are?

Do you feel like it's harder to get more out of your employees this time of year? Turns out, it's not your imagination. If you're feeling less productive yourself, maybe it's time to shake up your work environment -- with a coworking space. And speaking of social spaces, starting an effective social network can be easier than you think. Here's a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.

Summer Breeze

Productivity is a year-round concern for small-business owners, but the latest Productivity Index from timesheet software provider Replicon found that small companies face a major productivity challenge during the summer. According to the survey of nearly 100,000 users, employees are 52 percent more likely to use vacation time from June through August than any other time of the year.

Replicon also polled companies about sick-day usage. The most popular sick days? The Tuesdays after Memorial Day and Labor Day. You'd think, overall, Fridays would be a popular sick day, but employees were most likely to call in sick on Mondays. And despite what most people might think, managers take significantly more sick days than the rest of the staff do.

Are You Blowing Your Budget on Lattes?

Are you one of the many solopreneurs working out of a coffee shop or other public space? You might be spending more than you need to on that "free" workspace, according to a new study by Deskwanted, an online marketplace for coworking space.

The Deskwanted study, reported by GigaOm, found that the average cost of renting a "flexible desk" during regular business hours was $152 a month. Assuming there are 20 workdays in the average month, that's about $15 a day -- probably less than you'd likely spend on food and drink hanging out at Starbucks for eight hours.

Circle of Trust

Are you trying to start a social networking community on your small-business website? According to a survey by Ning, a leading online platform for creating communities, the magic number to make an online community vibrant is smaller than you think.

Ning's survey found it only takes 20 people to bring an online community to a significant level of activity and connectivity, as long as members are engaged, visit the site regularly and spend an increasing amount of time there.
This doesn't surprise me. In our obsession with the numbers (followers on Twitter, Klout scores, Facebook friends) we've lost the purpose of social media -- true interaction. The key to any successful group is a devoted core, not thousands of hangers-on.

The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 7/21/11.