Creating a Flexible Work Culture: The Case for Summer Fridays
It’s a Friday afternoon on a beautiful summer’s day. You’re sitting at your desk and, instead of working, you’re counting down the hours until you can start your weekend.
No matter how dedicated of a worker you are or how much you love your job, you know what I’m talking about. After all, being productive is hard enough on any Friday if you’ve had a long week. But in the summertime, when the sun is shining and you’re itching to get outside and have some fun, it’s almost impossible.
The good news is that a growing number of organizations are figuring out how to turn this challenge into an opportunity. The concept is simple: Offer employees Fridays off throughout the summer. In exchange, you ask them to work longer days Monday through Thursday to make up the time.
While we may never follow Europe’s lead of working substantially fewer hours each week, at least we may have found a solution that offers a bit of a middle ground. Let’s take a closer look at Summer Fridays and why they're a win-win for companies and employees alike.
The Friday Trend
According to a recent survey of 220 human resource leaders worldwide, 42 percent of organizations plan on offering some flavor of Summer Fridays this year, up from 21 percent in 2015. In some cases, they’ll offer it every week of the summer; in others just certain weeks or for one particular period such as the month of August. Regardless of what form it takes, the reason for the explosion in this particular perk is that it often makes good business sense.
Having Fridays off is a benefit that can be taken away, which motivates people to work harder so that they get to keep it. Plus, even though they’re working the same number of hours, having four days in the office instead of five creates a sense of urgency that drives people to get more done. That’s particularly true for companies that have adopted agility and whose workers are accustomed to working in short sprints. By compressing their work week, however, you not only ensure that your employees are working the same number of hours as they otherwise would be, but that more of those hours are productive ones.
Summer Fridays are also a low-cost way of making your employees happier and more engaged. It’s the kind of benefit that they really value — 80 percent of employees say more vacation time is a top benefit that they look for and one that could help sway their decision about whether or not to take a job. Plus, offering this perk makes you more attractive to prospective job candidates. Who doesn’t want to work for a company where you get Fridays off in the summertime?
When the Rubber Meets the Road
While Summer Fridays may be trendy, you also need to carefully consider the benefit before offering it to employees. The reality is that while it works well for some businesses, it may not work well for yours. If you run a customer service-based business, for example, you can’t exactly shut down operations just because it’s Friday. Or if you’re a financial institution, how are you going to explain that there’s no one around to execute a customer’s trade because your staff is at the beach?
Situations like these call for creative thinking. It may not be possible to implement a blanket policy across the entire company for Fridays off during the summer. Instead, perhaps you can give certain employees Fridays off on certain weeks and others Fridays off other weeks to ensure that there’s always coverage. If that won’t work, then look at your paid time off policies more generally to see if you can give your employees more time out of the office.
Summer Fridays aren’t for every business, but they could very well be for yours. It’s an exciting and inexpensive benefit and if you can manage to offer it to your employees, you’ll likely see a real boost in their overall happiness, engagement and even productivity. In today’s world, where people seek out flexible workplaces, and hybrid workforces are becoming the operating model of the future, a policy like this could go a long way to creating the kind of culture your employees love and that enable workforce agility.
Looking to improve business agility and culture with increased flexibility? Take a read through our whitepaper Winning With a Flexible Workforce.