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Forget Summer Hours

Many companies try to give their employees a little reprieve while positioning themselves as a caring employer by offering employees “summer hours.” Usually, “summer hours” means half-days on Friday or even Fridays off every other week. That’s a great way for an employer to dip their toe in the flexibility pool and experiment with offering flexible work options, but sticking with summer hours might be limiting both the employer and employee.

When I worked at McGladrey, we started out in 2005 with a summer hours policy and eventually moved to no policy. It was too prescriptive to say we’re closing at noon on Friday – both for our employees AND our business needs. Plus, it undermined the commitment we had to flexibility throughout the remainder of the year.

Instead, we migrated to a new approach that encouraged people to utilize flexibility to take a little extra time in the summer–whenever was right for them and the business.

I think summer hours make a great pilot project for flex, but firms need to think differently about Friday closures if they want to reap the true business benefits.

We shouldn’t assume that Friday afternoons are the best time-off option. It might not be the best break time for every employee or every business unit.

If your company is doing well with summer hours, take the next step by eliminating the formal Friday-afternoons-off policy to create a more integrated approach to flex and use summer as the launch pad for the effort.

Summer is a great time to encourage people to rejuvenate and take some extra time away from the office, but you don’t necessarily need a prescribed day to make that happen.

Instead, companies should foster the message that flexible scheduling is an integrated part of how work gets done.

What would you think about eliminating formal summer hours in your office? Would you still be able to take the time away? 

– Teresa Hopke