It happens every year as the weather gets warmer — employee productivity comes to a screeching halt. Employee productivity taking a slight dive at the beginning of summer isn’t breaking news. Business owners have noticed this trend for years. It’s said that when agencies in New York realized that employee productivity decreased in the summer, specifically on Fridays, they began to offer “Summer Fridays.”
More recently, studies show that productivity drops by 20 percent, attendance dips by 19 percent, and project turnaround times increase by 13 percent. Additionally, 45 percent admit that they get more distracted. In particular, 63 percent socialize more with coworkers, 51 percent take longer breaks, and 49 leave early a few days a week.
While there some ways to keep your team motivated throughout the dog days of summer like having meetings outside, providing refreshments, encouraging more frequent breaks, and rewarding proactive staff, is there something more useful than establishing summer hours?
Some research reports that having a shorter workweek is counterproductive because to leave earlier on Friday; people have to put in more time Monday through Friday. As a result, they become more stressed and less productive. At the same time, most people can work from home — which can improve their output.
So, before making a final decision, let’s go over the pros and cons of your startup having summer hours. And, if you think it will work for your business, I’ll throw in some pointers on how you can implement them.
The Benefits of Summer Hours
The main advantage of summer hours is that it grants employees a more flexible schedule so that they can maintain a healthy work-life balance. While this is important for year-round, this is especially true during the summer. For example, if you have children, you may want to work four days a week so that you can enjoy a three-day weekend with them. Or, you may have to adjust your hours so that you work when they’re not around.
Having a flexible schedule increases employee productivity since it prevents burnout, builds trust, and makes people happier. “Our policy is basically that if you need to leave early to get somewhere, you come in early to finish your work or make sure all of your responsibilities are handled before you leave,” David Heath, CEO, and Co-Founder of the sock company Bombas, told Entrepreneur. “It shows your team that you trust them to handle their own responsibilities.”
Consulting firm Adecco also found that shortened workweeks “increase employee morale and all the good things that go with that, such as higher retention, candidate attraction, and productivity.” Roy Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” tells CBS News that “A half-day on Friday motivates employees to work as hard as possible to get as much done as they can in four hours, and it is empowering.”
Finally, technology allows most of us to work whenever we want. Believe it or not, getting away from common workplace distractions, and changing up your routine can boost your productivity.
The Drawbacks of Summer Hours
Of course, there are some disadvantages to summer hours. Most prevalently, it’s the additional stress some of your team members may have. They may feel too much pressure to get as much done as possible in less time. Instead of having five days to complete all of their work, they’re done to three or four days.
Moreover, some people may use shortened workweeks as an excuse to slack off. It can also be more challenging to schedule meetings since employees aren’t in the office as much. And, it may be conducive for your specific business.
“Flexible schedules may not work with certain client-facing positions that are heavy on client service and which require the same employee to interface with the client,” Midge Seltzer, co-founder and executive vice president of Engage PEO told Business News Daily.
These types of schedules are also harsh on new business ventures. “Companies just starting need every minute of every day to ensure their success,” David Daneshgar, co-founder of BloomNation.com told Care.com. “We are a growing startup facing major competitors.” For his company, June through August is a summer hustle.
Types of Summer Hours Policies
As you weigh the pros and cons, you should also take into consideration the various types of summer hours models. These include:
- Half-day Fridays. Here employees can leave work early, such as noon or 1 PM. To make-up, for these hours, they will have to put in an additional hour Monday – Thursday.
- Early Friday dismissal. Another option is to let your team depart in the afternoon, such as around 3 PM. Having an early day allows them to wrap-up their priorities and still get out early.
- Shorter hours on any day they chose. Having a few days where employees can decide a shorter day can be a win-win since it keeps your startup open five days a week while also allowing employees to enjoy their summer.
- Every other Friday off. Another way to keep your business operating while also giving people Fridays off is to alter their schedules. The schedule means one employee works on Friday but will have off next week. Another employee is working when their colleague is off.
- Every Friday off. You may wish to shut-down the shop every single Friday. Again, your team may have to put in more hours during the week. Or, you could be generous and give them unlimited time off.
- Allow employees to work from home. Working from home doesn’t have to be on Fridays. For example, you may only need your team to come in three days a week. They can then work from home the other days.
Making Summer Hours Work For You
If you want to implement summer hours at your startup, there are a couple of final factors to consider. At the top should be knowing how flexible your business and specific jobs are. If you provide a service, you may need to have some technical support available as much as possible.
Additionally, you should be aware of deadlines, the stress level of your team, and whether or not they’re reliable. To get a better understanding of this, you may want to survey them to gather their feedback. You could also give the shortened hours a trail run and track your team’s progress.
If you do decide to go forward, make sure that you communicate the new policy and stay consistent with it. You don’t want to start off giving employees off every Friday to backtrack and implement half-days on Fridays. It’s confusing, and they may have already made plans.
And don’t forget to keep track of everyone’s hours. Depending on the state where you operate, you may have to pay overtime to employees if they work more then 8 hours per day — this is the case in California.
If your startup has summer hours, how have they worked out for you and your team?