On August 1st, Lauryn asked me, “What if we implemented Summer Fridays for the rest of the summer?” We hadn’t considered the option before, but an article making the case for a 4-day work week was making the rounds, so we decided to talk it through and asked ourselves…
Are Summer Fridays good for business AND employer brand?
After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to go for it — we announced to the team they we would all have the four Fridays off between August 10th and August 31st. Here’s why we tried the 4 day workweek this summer:
1. We really like the people at Stories Inc. personally, and we genuinely want them to be happy and fulfilled outside of work.
One of the many things that I love about having Lauryn as a business partner is that we both have a similar appreciation for living life to the fullest. We like the people we work with and want them to live their lives to the fullest, and Summer Fridays would help them on that path by giving them an extra day to pursue their passions and to explore new ones.
At one of our client organizations, new hires are asked what’s on their bucket list. When possible, leadership at that company does what it can to help team members cross off their bucket list items. We worked with that company very early in our existence, and learning about that practice has always been an inspiration for us.
Happy, fulfilled team members are: more motivated to do a great job; more creative; more collaborative; and more likely to treat clients better. Happy team members will mean happy clients, and making our clients happy is always at the top of our mind.
3. If we can make Summer Fridays work, it would help us attract and retain top talent.
Who wouldn’t find it attractive to be paid for five days a week and only have to work four in the summer?
4. We focus on results anyway.
The question remains: would the decrease in number of hours worked over the summer result in a decrease in performance, and if so, would that negative impact outweigh the benefits noted in #2 and #3? We suppose that’s possible, and we’re definitely looking closely at how we performed with Summer Fridays in place.
The team knows (and agrees) that if performance were to have suffered at all, then we wouldn’t be able to implement it again next year. Our hypothesis when making the decision was that productivity would rise during the four remaining days of the workweek, and that there wouldn’t be a negative impact on productivity.
It’s also worth noting that we already have a flexible office environment, where we’re not monitoring how many hours team members are in the office. Instead, we focus on results, which was even more the case during Summer Fridays.
5. It’s a good exercise to question why things are the way they are
Steve Jobs once said, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it.”
Ever since I came across that quote, I’ve pushed myself to examine why things are the way they are and to question whether there’s a good reason that they should continue to be that way.
In this case, the 5-day work week has been around since the Industrial Revolution, when it was implemented to maximize the output of factories. Maybe there are good reasons to follow a 5-day work week, but “it’s been that way since the 1800s” does not qualify as a good enough reason in my mind.
6. Making the most of our nimbleness
A lot of companies would love to be able to implement a program that would achieve the benefits mentioned in #1-3 above. But most companies would not be able to make a decision of this magnitude and implement it in a week.
We’re nimble enough to do something like this and should make the most of it when it can give us an edge over companies with more inertia — or at the very least help when it can help us contribute to an interesting conversation.
More Summer Friday stories to come…
The last Summer Friday just wrapped up. Stay tuned for more posts on the experiment, including a follow up to this one on whether it was a success or not and hopefully an answer to the question we’re all asking ‘Are Summer Fridays good for business and employer branding?’, and posts from the team on how they spent their Summer Fridays and what it meant to them and our company culture.