What Are Summer Fridays?

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When the pleasant summer months approach each year, employees often look forward to leisure activities and weekend travel plans. To make it easier for their staff to enjoy the season, some employers have implemented a Summer Fridays policy that provides workers with some or all of the day off. Typically beginning in May or June and continuing through August, a Summer Fridays policy can offer unique benefits to both workers and employers.

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Learn more about how this flexible arrangement works and why companies may or may not offer it.

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Background on Summer Fridays

Since flexible work schedules have especially grown increasingly popular over recent years, you might think that Summer Fridays are a new perk. However, according to the BBC, summer Fridays policies could date as far back as the ​1960s​. There are other early mentions in the ​1980s​ as well.

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Back then, workers in New York City tended to benefit most often from the policy. While it's still popular in major cities, you'll find this perk across the country now. In fact, Newsweek did a survey in 2022 that found that ​59 percent​ of respondents benefited from Summer Fridays at their workplaces.

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Availability will depend on the industry since some businesses need staff present every day to handle important tasks. The BBC notes that companies in the knowledge industries are more likely to offer this premium perk. For example, you're more likely to get Fridays off if you're a journalist or programmer than if you're a restaurant cook or warehouse worker.

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How Do Summer Fridays Work?

Depending on the company's needs and culture, Summer Fridays can take one of several forms. Some versions require workers to compensate for the missed work at some other time, while other forms don't. Some popular arrangements include the following:

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  • Shortened Friday workdays​: This option involves employees working their regular Monday through Thursday shifts. However, they get off early every Friday and often leave at lunchtime. As an example, the social media software company Buffer experimented with half-day Fridays in 2019. This option can be a compromise in industries where workers need to be present every day at least for some of the time.

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  • Every Friday off​: Considered the most generous of the Summer Fridays options, this one gives employees the day off every week. Companies can consider a few different approaches to handling this. For example, you might have to work a compressed schedule of four 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday to get Fridays off. A more desirable option would involve the company letting you work your usual Monday through Thursday hours and giving you paid time off for Fridays.

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  • Some Fridays off​: Useful for when at least some employees need to be present on Fridays, this policy would have workers do rotations every other Friday. For example, you might get this Friday off while your coworker would get the following Friday off. While companies can allocate workers for their needs, they might opt to rotate half of all the staff for simplicity.

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  • Broader flexible hour policy​: In some cases, your company might have no Summer Fridays policy explicitly, but you might have a work schedule that lets you choose the days and hours to fit your needs. You could opt to arrange your schedule to be off part of the day or the entire day on Fridays. For example, if you plan a weekend getaway with the family every summer month, you could take advantage of the flexibility on those specific weeks.

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ypically beginning in May or June and continuing through August, a Summer Fridays policy can offer unique benefits to both workers and employers.

Why Employees Like Summer Fridays

As someone with a flexible work schedule that makes Summer Fridays possible, I've experienced firsthand the primary benefit of a better work-life balance. It becomes easier to plan fun outings, such as trips to an amusement park, picnics and hikes with friends and family, into your weekend schedule. The Society for Human Resource Management emphasizes that the improved work-life balance from Summer Fridays positively affects workers' mental health and boosts happiness.

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Summer Fridays can also serve as a motivator for getting through long work days inside when the great weather entices you to be somewhere else. If your company doesn't have this policy, you might find it harder to be productive and end up stressed when you can't properly focus and complete your work. Just the idea that you'll have some extra time to enjoy on Friday might help you push through those days with a more positive outlook.

In addition, the University of Michigan mentions that flexible work arrangements like Summer Fridays can provide some needed time to de-stress. I've also experienced this personally since I tend to work long hours during the spring, and having the freedom to take extra time off on Fridays has provided me time to relax and catch up on leisure. The better weather conditions in the summer help with this as well.

Why Employers Like Summer Fridays

Lawrence Ragan Communications highlights improved employee retention as a reason businesses offer Summer Fridays. As more employees seek roles with a better work-life balance, improved flexibility and top benefits, companies that don't provide these desires can find themselves having staff move to competitors. In addition, Summer Fridays could help companies that struggle getting workers to interview by offering the highly sought perk to applicants.

Four-day workweek options like Summer Fridays also offer productivity benefits to employers, explains the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan Management Review. This can apply even if employees don't work longer hours to make up for Fridays off. Part of the reasoning stems from the benefit of making staff feel motivated and appreciated. In addition, it could help productivity by reducing the number of employees calling out for nonessential reasons during the week.

Also, the University of Michigan notes some cost savings that employers can enjoy. First, you can consider the operational costs that get cut when the office isn't open on Fridays or is only open part of the time. Second, in situations where employees take on a part-time schedule in the summer, the company can save on labor costs during the Fridays that employees don't work. Lastly, the perk could reduce turnover costs when it helps retain staff who might otherwise consider job-hopping.

Are There Downsides of Summer Fridays?

It may not make sense logistically for some companies to offer the perk when they need to function continuously or don't have enough staff to handle even rotating Fridays off. In addition, Drexel University mentions collective bargaining agreements can make it hard to implement offerings such as Friday half days.

There's also the risk that the policy could create stress and other problems for both employers and employees. This especially happens when there's a time crunch to get everything done or when employees have to take on compressed schedules. Plus, there's the risk that half-day Fridays could have employees slacking off and not taking the work day seriously.

Alternatives to Summer Fridays

Due to the potential issues, companies that can't offer Summer Fridays might consider other perks to motivate employees and improve morale. Forbes suggests some offerings such as hosting outdoor events like cookouts and game nights, providing gift cards for travel and offering community service opportunities at places like parks. Potluck lunches outside the office can also work.

In addition, businesses can consider other flexible work arrangements such as allowing employees to get time off during other times of the week or to work remotely. Another option would be having some or all workers on-call on Fridays so that they have to come in only if needed that week.

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