Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer Fridays

I have one client that has a nice summer Friday perk: the office closes down at 2 p.m. They’re not alone:

The summer Friday is on an upswing. In a survey of more than 200 employers, the CEB (formerly the Corporate Executive Board) found that the share of companies offering this perk has jumped from 21 percent in 2015 to 42 percent in 2017. (Source: Bloomberg)

This is a great little bennie.

Traffic around here is insane in general. But it’s insane in particular in the summer.

Sure, once school is out, the daily commute becomes a little less grinding, as in any given week it’s likely that at least 10 percent of the regular commuters are on vakay. But those Friday’s…Just brutal. People heading to the Cape. People heading to NH. People heading to the Berkshires. People heading to Maine. People heading into Boston. People just plain heading home. (Mostly it’s people heading to the Cape, the location that takes up the most headspace in Massachusetts vacation consciousness. Earworm alert and cue Patti Page singing “Old Cape Cod:” If you spend an evening, then you’ll want to stay. Watching the moonlight on old Cape Cod Bay. You’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.

Now that I’ve got that out of my system…

There are a number of things I miss about being in a corporate setting full time. But that summer Friday commute ain’t one of them.

And officially letting people out early is pretty much just reflecting the reality that anyone who can is already scooting out before 5 p.m. And those who don’t feel “empowered” (one of my favorite corporate words) to get up and go and just pretending to work. Too smart to use the company laptop, they’re playing games or ‘net surfing on their personal smartphones. Or they’re lounging around with colleagues talking about their weekend plans.

“It’s not like people are really killing it at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon in the middle of the summer,” said Brian Kropp, an HR practice leader at CEB. And a lot of employees tend to leave early on Fridays during the summer anyway. (Electricity consumption in New York City dips around that time by as much by 4 percent in the summer.) Companies that allow summer Fridays are simply taking advantage of a simple reality. “By formalizing it, it sends a clear message that we care about you,” said Kropp.

“We care about you.” Awwwwww. I’m tearing up.

But the truth is that where there is competition for workers, the perks will start to get packed on. And letting folks out at 2 p.m. on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day is a perk with zero cost, and the upside of making employees plenty happy.

Of course, if you’re around here and you’re heading to the Cape, getting out at 2 p.m. won’t buy you much. The Sagamore and Bourne Bridges will be backed up. Route 6 will be a nightmare. You might as well wait until 8 p.m. to leave. Or take Friday completely off and head down on Thursday. Summer Thursdays, anyone?

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