Why summer Fridays might be good for business

7539528976_d0598023e9_zLaura’s note: I’m taking a short break from blogging. During this time, I’ll be running guest posts and pieces from the archive. This one ran in June, 2012. Please enjoy! I’ll be back to blogging soon.

Not many workplaces have “summer Fridays” — that genteel tradition of closing down around lunch once a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. According to a survey done by Ultimat Vodka, just 12% of employed adults get this perk.

Officially, that is. Because anyone who’s tried to start a new project or close a deal on a summer Friday has probably noticed that, well, not much gets done. People are slipping out. They’re watching the clock, or doing a little cyberloafing. That’s what I’ve always thought was the genius of Google’s 20 percent time — the work perk that permits Google employees to work on their own projects for the equivalent of one day per week. Office workers admit to goofing off around 20% of the time anyway. Why not encourage them to do something useful with those hours?

Officially creating summer Fridays acknowledges this reality, and I’d argue is better for business for the same reason that 4-day workweeks are also preferable for many people. Around the time El Paso, Texas went to a 4-day, 10-hour workweek for its City Hall workers — in part to save money on utilities — it discovered that 61% of employees preferred this schedule (30% liked the 5-day version). There are certain things that people need to do that are just much more convenient during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Think doctor and dentist appointments, bringing the car in, even getting your hair cut. If people never have guaranteed time off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the workweek, they will take the time unpredictably during the 40 hours they are scheduled to work. But if you know you always have Fridays off, you tend to schedule all such things for Fridays. So you don’t take that time off during the 40 hours you are scheduled to work.

Of course, one of the reasons people like having a weekday off is that you can do things like go to museums when it’s less crowded. If everyone has the same time off during the workweek then this wouldn’t help with crowds. Indeed, Friday afternoon is pretty packed at the zoo these days. But in general, summer Fridays (or even 4-day weeks) are perks that don’t cost much, and might save you money with reduced absenteeism.

Photo courtesy flickr user Tobyotter

4 thoughts on “Why summer Fridays might be good for business

  1. The long-day, short weeks don’t work at all for people with kids. Day care centers close around 5 or 5:30 where I live. As it is I can barely get in an 8-hour work day, and the evenings so short before you have to start the bed time routine.

    I also wonder how productive anyone is those last couple of hours.

    1. @MP – there are different hours different places — the place we used in NYC was open until 6:30. But yes, one reason people give for not liking compressed schedules is childcare issues.

  2. I work 4- 9 hour days and have Fridays off. Unfortunately, my dentist also has Fridays off. If everyone worked 4 day weeks, no one could get their errands and appointments done on Fridays.

  3. I like modified versions of this. I worked 4 10 hour days one summer and was exhausted on Fridays – and I was young then! 9 hour days with an afternoon off sometime during the week would be workable – or every other Friday.

    Getting some 8-5 time for errands, as you said, is wonderful.

    Maybe some folks could do Mondays and some Fridays!

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