Making Summer Hours Work
Give staff a slightly reduced work week when warm weather (finally) appears.
“Oh, the summer night, Has a smile of light, And she sits on a sapphire throne.”
Bryan Procter, English poet, 1787
Sapphire throne my tush, Bryan. Summer nights are so 18th century. Workers crave daytimes. Fleeing the office early, to frolic in climate Canadians would sell a (frostbitten) limb for by mid-February.
You’d deprive them of this pleasure? Surely not. Locking your people inside for a full work week, from June through August, is cruel and unusual punishment.
The solution is "summer hours." It’s one of the barefoot and straw-hat perks that give freedom to enjoy the season.
Same Workload, Extra Time Off
Summer hours are a form of a compressed work week. So long as employees scurry to finish what’s needed, they get half a day off or so per week without losing wages.
Watch ‘em squint like released prisoners as they step into unfamiliar sunlight. It’s a great morale booster and stress reliever.
Give A Version That Fits
There are variants in how the program works. One of the popular types lets everyone take Friday afternoons off. They’re free to go after whatever time you decide. 12:30 to 1:30’s typical. No later than 2:30 though, otherwise it ain’t much incentive.
Another sort lets employees pick the timing. They could choose a half a day off every Monday morning. Or announce each week when they’ll be MIA. This flexibility works well if your Friday afternoons stay busy year round. Except scheduling has to be approved or operations could freeze.
Does your staff live for long weekends? Let them have one every fortnight (that’s 14 days for non-Brits). Instead of a half-day off each week, make every other full Monday – or Friday – a paid summer holiday.
Free Pass vs. Working It Off
Some employers force folk to earn summer hours. Others are more chillaxed. Depends on business imperatives, plus how generous (or stingy) you are.
That half day shrinks the workweek by a tenth if you’re being persnickety. It’s a sweet giveaway when summers are slower. But if hours on the job matter muchly, then employees could make up lost stretches.
They could come in earlier every day, lessen their lunch, or head out a bit later. Someone’s got to keep tabs, though. A more straightforward way is to set the same rule for all: either an extra half hour each morning or afternoon or a leaner lunch.
Bring Out The Whips For Slackers
No doubt there’ll be one or more loafers who take advantage. Throwing in last minute notices in flexible programs. Producing just 90% of their regular outputs.
Managerial discretion’s key. Occasional abuse can be forgiven with a wrist slap. Habitual sinners have to be served notice they’ll lose the privilege. Not that you can compel them to come in when nobody else is there. That’s both unproductive and unsafe.
You’ll find a relevant way to sully their sapphire throne. Because when everyone plays nice, summer hours bring “smiles of light!”