Make an Office Summer Schedule Work For You

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Summer is officially here – and many of us are kicking off our shoes in favor of flip flops (or bare feet). Whether it's compressing a 40 hour week into four days instead of five, starting and ending the workday at times other than the traditional 9 – 5, or allowing employees to work from home to reduce long commutes and childcare costs, employers are embracing the idea of a summer flex work arrangement. 

Summer hours can be a popular and efficient way for employers to offer work flexibility because it involves little or no additional cost as long as the work gets done and schedules are coordinated among staffers. And the practice helps boost employee morale and attract and retain workers.

What do "summer hours" really mean?

Summer hours, typically in a corporate or non-profit setting, mean that as long as an employee covers his schedule, he can take time off each week and not be charged against his wages, or paid time off.

In general, flexible summer hours occur during the months of May to August each year. Employees can either make an individual request for temporary summer flex hours or management may have a company-wide or department policy for employees regarding summer flex hours.

What Do They Look Like?

Summer schedules vary by company and employers need to decide what will work best within their company culture – but here are examples of the most popular arrangements (according to a recent poll by HRinfodesk):

  • From Memorial Day to Labor Day, employees can leave at 1 pm on Fridays. The expectation is employees need to get their work done throughout the week, but it's the employees' responsibility to determine what that looks like. There may be times it isn't possible/appropriate to leave early.
  • Employees are allowed one ½ day off on any workday in the week providing they work 40 hours during the summer months. They can also flex on the week of any federal holiday. In most cases, employees flex on a Friday and they love this option as it gives them control over planning their long weekends.
  • Employees are able to take every other Friday afternoon off. In order to do so, they must have made up the hours in the two weeks preceding the Friday. They can shorten their lunch, come in earlier, or leave later.
  • From May until Labor Day, we start a half hour early every day and get every Friday afternoon off.
  • Our staff hours are such: The staff (who want to participate) work (8) 9-hour days (Monday-Friday) for two weeks and take alternating Fridays off – enabling all to have several long weekends.
  • Our organization lets employees off at 3 pm on Fridays during the summer. This is mainly regarded as a reward for all the overtime managers have worked during the year, but all employees are entitled to it. Summer hours begin the long weekend at the beginning of July and end the Labor Day weekend.

How to Implement a Summer Schedule – Follow the 5 C's

Create a detailed and comprehensive agreement that ensures employees will continue to get their work done despite flexible or reduced hours. The specifics of this schedule are between the employer and the employee, but should be clearly set and agreed upon in every case. Establishing clear policies protect against any negative effects on productivity.

Be Consistent. If a flexible work schedule is available to one group of employees, it should be an option for all. One of the key goals of this system is to give employees a sense of control over their time in the summer months. However, limiting summer hour opportunities to a specific group may leave other workers feeling under appreciated – possibly undermining the overall positive effects of summer scheduling. In addition, once an alternative summer scheduling policy has been agreed upon, be sure to consistently follow it.

Coordinate who takes advantage of their summer schedule and when they plan to be out of the office. Adequate staff needs to be available regardless of the season, and alternative hours cannot take a toll on overall productivity and customer satisfaction. Supervisors need to coordinate employee schedules to ensure work is still getting done.

Communicate with employees to make sure everyone is on the same page with what is expected and what alternative schedule arrangements are allowed. Listening to what employees need is the key to drafting an alternative summer schedule that employees will appreciate and in turn, adhere to.

Check in with employees taking advantage of the alternative summer schedule to make sure their work is getting done and their progress is on track. Performance should be monitored and reviewed closely when the alternative schedule is being used. Also, gather feedback as to how the alternative schedule is working and where there is room for improvement.

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Guest June 28 2017
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