The Truth About Summer Hours

Smiling female office worker ready to leave for vacations with pink luggage.

It’s summer at the office, and you’ve got all the usual activities planned – ice cream socials, potluck picnics and company softball games – but all anyone is talking about is what they don’t have: Summer Hours. While the concept of closing the office early on Fridays just because it’s nice outside might seem like another tactic in the evil plot to undermine your small business, half-days are truly not the enemy. In fact, summer hours are a relatively small gesture that can have a huge impact on employee happiness, office morale and even productivity and recruitment.

So what’s stopping you from implementing summer hours at your office? Here are four common misconceptions about summer hours and the mythbusting truths that just might change your mind.

Myth #1: We Can’t Close Early

If you work in an office, business tends to move at a much slower pace in the summer, especially on Fridays. That’s because it’s not just your employees that are going on vacation, but your clients and vendors, too. Ask yourself, would your customers really miss you if you were closed? As long as you provide advanced notice, and make a point to reschedule any standing meetings or deliveries, you’ll find most clients won’t mind.

If closing early simply isn’t an option, why not try an alternating summer Friday schedule. In this variation on standard summer hours, half of the employees take off early one week (or take the whole day), and the other half leave at noon the following Friday.

Myth #2: The Work Won’t Get Done

When there’s extra time off on the line, you’d be surprised at how efficient people become. Knowing that a free afternoon awaits is often all the incentive employees need to stay focused and meet deadlines so that they can leave on time. Co-workers may even be willing to help each other out.

Even if you are adamant that the work cannot get done in less than 40 hours, you can still offer your employees some form of summer schedule. Perhaps your team would prefer to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday in exchange for half-day Fridays, or opt for a 4 day workweek with 10 hour days.

Myth #3: Productivity Will Drop

Yes, productivity drops in the summer, but implementing summer hours actually has the opposite effect. According to an Opinion Research Corporation study, 66% of employees who enjoy summer hours are more productive.

Many employers believe that the more hours that employees work, the more productive they are, but it’s simply not the case. In fact, numerous studies have shown that productivity at the office drops sharply when employees work more than 50 hours. Just because employees are at their desks for 8 hours does not mean they are being productive the whole time.

Myth #4: It’s too Hard to Manage

One of the best things about a reduced summer schedule is that you shouldn’t have to manage it much at all. Once you’ve designated your summer hours, and notified your clients and vendors, there’s not much more to do besides set up your out-of-office email responder and change your voicemail.

Much like when someone schedules a vacation, it’s up to each employee to manage their workloads, and seek coverage when needed. If your business necessitates someone be on-call, or you’ve opted for an alternating Friday schedule or some other variation, ask your team to create it. Since everyone is reaping the benefits, most companies find that employees are more than willing to cooperate.

Do Summer Hours Make Sense for Your Office?

When you’re a small business owner, the thought of closing your doors for even an hour, and missing out on potential revenue, is enough to keep you awake at night, but in the case of summer hours, the rewards just might outweigh the risks.

For more insights and advice, check out our other Tips for Small Business Owners.