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4 Alternatives To Summer Fridays

Are you jealous of friends taking off early every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day? Don’t be–note other ways to enjoy summer hours.

4 Alternatives To Summer Fridays
[Photo: Flickr user Katherine Squier]

You just suffered through a long, hot workweek. It’s Friday during the summer. Should you stay at work or cut out early?

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We all want more time. But are Summer Fridays the best way to get it?

In an oft-cited study commissioned by a vodka company, we learned workers like Summer Fridays. In fact, the survey found 76% of employees believe Summer Friday policies are an effective tool for increasing productivity, while 87% of responders believe it’s a key part of a healthier work-life balance.

Summer Fridays are ostensibly a holdover from the Mad Men days, when cutting out to beat the Hamptons traffic was paramount in the race to the first Martini. These days, the practice is widespread in certain geographies such as the Northeast, and industries such as media and publishing, but is elusive to the vast majority of workers.

The Stress Behind Summer Fridays

We all know Americans work too much, and working less should be a priority for our health and overall productivity. But are Summer Fridays actually worth it?

Does the practice contribute to our busyness or detract from it? Are we more productive when we look forward to a Friday afternoon on the beach, or on Monday morning after a few hours of extra rest? The answers are still fuzzy.

Many employees say forced time off adds to stress of packing more work into fewer hours. Around 69% indicate they forfeit their extra free hours because of their workload.

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The arguments for or against Summer Fridays are another indication that we put too much onus on hours worked, and not enough on personal health and happiness. The idea that there needs to be a policy at all would be laughable to much of the world where it’s assumed you work to live–not the other way around.

It’s all about the precious natural resource of time. Digging into the research a little more it becomes clearer that what employees’ desire is more autonomy in creating their own schedule. While mandating Summer Fridays as a juicy perk, it might not be useful to productivity or employee happiness.

Boosting Morale Among Your Employees

As a boss, you still need your team to be productive and efficient. What are some ways you can use the benefit of more time to achieve that goal?

1. Allow Flex-Time Requests

Summer hours are unnecessarily restrictive to one part of one day in one season. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow employees to decide when to make their own free time? As long as they’re logging the requisite hours, give them more freedom. See if it equals more productivity overall.

2. Let Your People Go Early

People are busy. They have lives outside of the office. Make it a habit to let your team leave work an hour earlier across the board. Fewer hours at work means more concentrated hours that are more useful. My guess is that you will see an immediate uptick in productivity, and it will help you create a team of happy people who want to go to bat for you.

3. Stop Clocking Hours

Logging hours is an outdated means of assessing work, a relic of the industrial revolution. Maybe it’s time we base our assessment of work not on a set of 40 hours, but on actual productivity? Is there another scale to use to gauge whether your employees are working?

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4. Create A Vacation Non-Policy

Doing away with any time-off policy at all is apparently the wave of the future. Imagine a world where individual employees decide when to take time off and assess hours worked, thus eliminating the need for summer hours.

Virgin, Netflix, Evernote, Eventbrite, Zynga, and many other companies have done away with a vacation policy altogether. Trust breeds responsibility, happiness breeds productivity, and everybody wins.

What do you think of summer hours? Do they make you more productive? Or would you prefer some other benefit?