Everything You Need to Know About Summer Fridays (and Weren't Sure Who to Ask)

June’s here and your company’s adopted the coveted “Summer Fridays” policy, which means you:

A) Get out of work at noon on Fridays now until Labor Day
B) Get a few floating Fridays off throughout the season
C) Get to leave at 1 PM instead of 6 PM on Fridays
D) Get to pick one Friday to take off each month

The answer depends on where you work. There is no standard policy. Every organization implements the perk in a different way (if they opt to offer it at all).

But regardless of how it’s set up, you’re responsible for getting your work done in a timely manner and communicating with your team.

So if you’re confused about what working Summer Fridays really entails, here are some common questions—and answers!

Will My Workload Be Reduced?

Unlikely. While I can’t say with absolute certainty that your boss won’t lighten your load so you can work a half day on Fridays, I think it’s fair to say that most organizations offering this deal expect you to manage your time accordingly. That typically doesn’t involve saying bye to your boss at noon to get the weekend started if you have unfinished work attached to a deadline.

If you’re not working longer days earlier in the week to account for the shortened day, then it’s up to you to figure out how to fit it all in to make that short day at the end of the week a reality.

Perhaps you eat lunch at your desk or you cut out social media breaks. Maybe you set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and stay 20 minutes later than usual. Or, maybe you read this article on how successful people finish all their work by Thursday (stress-free).

Just don’t expect your manager to take work off your plate in response to the policy.

Can I Use It as an Excuse to Put Off Big Projects?

Um, not if you want to get ahead and impress your boss (spoiler: It’s hard to get a raise or promotion if your boss isn’t impressed). Just because you have the liberty to tackle projects when it works for your schedule, it doesn’t mean you should use the summer months to slack off or coast until September.

If taking a half day is top of mind, then you’ll want to make sure to work smarter during the week so you can make it happen without back-burnering all of the creative initiatives you’re expected to roll out before the end of the year. It’s nice to have flexible deadlines, but it’s not an excuse to be a lazy worker. Plus, you don’t want to face an insurmountable workload come fall because you pushed everything major aside.

Can I Trade in Two Half Days for a Full Day Off?

This is a highly specific one, but unless your company is super loosey-goosey with the policy, the answer is probably no. If the leaders wanted you to take full days off in the summer in addition to your regular allotted vacation days, they’d have built it into the policy. Working until 6:30 PM two consecutive Fridays in July doesn’t mean you get to take the following one off.

Don’t take my word for it, but definitely don’t make this assumption either. Speak to your boss about how you can take advantage of the plan and not the fantasy one you’ve dreamed up.

Can I Stop Checking Email When I Leave?

Again, this one is pretty specific to your individual situation. Do you typically not check your email at all after you leave work for the weekend? Is your whole team taking Summer Fridays?

If you’re the only one leaving early (because your time management skills are prize-worthy—pat yourself on the back), consider how ignoring your inbox may impact co-workers who have a question for you a couple hours after you’ve left the building.

Maintain the same work practices now as you would the rest of the year. That may mean getting back to people in off hours or plugging in on Saturday morning for an hour to make sure there’s no unfinished business.

Do I Have to Work a Full Day if My Team Is?

This one’s tricky. It’s not unreasonable to want to embrace the perk if you’ve set yourself up well to do so. But think about how being the only one to leave early may reflect poorly on you.

Before you hit the road, be considerate and ask if anyone needs anything. You should be able to read the situation–whether that involves staying an 45 minutes later than you’d planned so that everyone can clock out early or promising to check in later in case anyone needs anything—and act accordingly. Just think if it were reversed: How would you feel if a team member left without seeing if they could help you do the same?

Can I Ask My Boss for Summer Fridays Even if It’s Not Company Policy?

Before you reach out to your boss about making it an option, take a close look at your work. Can you, as Muse writer Kat Boogard suggests, “use your time so efficiently” that you have all of your “important to-dos wrapped up by Thursday?”

If the answer is yes and you’re committed to your role, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t speak to your manager about flexible hours.

Try this approach:

Hi [Name of Boss],

I was wondering if we could discuss the possibility of my working a Summer Friday schedule through Labor Day?

Are you open to discussing a scenario where I increase the hours I work Monday through Thursday and begin my weekend at 1 or 2 PM on Fridays? I’m happy to discuss how this arrangement would work with achieving my goals, finishing my projects, and collaborating with the team.

Thanks,
[Your Name]

Summer Fridays are meant to give you a bonus weekend. They’re not meant to stress you out or make you feel like you’re bending over backwards to take advantage of them. If you learn to use your time as wisely as possible, my guess is that you’ll find time in your schedule you didn’t even know you had.

Muse Co-founder Alex Cavoulacos encourages “aggressively guarding your schedule.” As she says, “You’ll never be able to add time to the day, but you can be smart about the hours you do have.” Accomplish that, and I think we can all raise a glass the next time Friday afternoon rolls around.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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