Summer Fridays

I started the job in the fall, came in at nine on the dot every morning and though we could technically leave at 5 p.m., most of us stuck around until six to wrap up and answer all those emails we told ourselves we would answer at the end of the day.

When the early days of summer arrived our boss walked around the office and announced cheerfully, “The season of Summer Fridays have arrived! If you are still here at 3 p.m. on Friday, you are doing something wrong.”

I looked over to one of my co-workers, who was beaming with delight.

“What’s Summer Friday?” I asked.

“It means you get to go home early on Friday,” she said. “And you should take advantage of it! Get a head start on the weekend.”

I was 25 and well on my way to becoming a workaholic. The recession hadn’t hit yet but I had convinced myself that the only way to hold on to my job and have the money to have a house one day and raise kids in a backyard big enough to build forts would be to work work work, oh god, just work until the boss noticed how dedicated I was and maybe deserved a raise. Keep your head down. Make friends and not enemies at work by not being an asshole. Summer Fridays forced me out of my office chair and into the daylight.

“Don’t be the asshole who stays at the office during Summer Fridays,” my coworker added. And since I didn’t want to be that guy, I packed up my stuff at 3 p.m. with everyone else and walked out of the building.

Summer Fridays were instituted as a way to give employees a little perk—especially in startup atmospheres or places where things were just slow during the summer. They help with employee retention. They can prevent burnout. They show you that your workplace wants you to remember that you can have a life. You use the time to get recharged and then use the magical summer energy to get back to work on Monday.

I had spent my first few years out of college doing the 9-to-5 grind, usually staying later and being grateful to have a job, so this whole Summer Friday thing was bewildering. My other friends didn’t have Summer Fridays, so I spent most of it alone. I’d leave the office at 3 p.m. to avoid being an asshole, and then I’d get an iced coffee, sit in the park for a little bit, browse a bookstore without buying anything, and then go home. I’d think about work for a while, and then turn on the television.

I remembered what it was like to be out during the day, what it was like to have a beer at 3 p.m. on a day I’d usually still be at work staring into my computer screen. Whoever created Summer Fridays was a genius—I really did feel energized when I went back to work on Monday. I started organizing Summer Friday drink hours and rounded up whomever I could at the office to join me. We went to a baseball game. We went bowling. My boss came along once and it wasn’t awkward.

I don’t have Summer Fridays at the job I’m at now. At 3 p.m. today, I’ll leave my cubicle and walk over to the window in the conference room. I’ll look out into the daylight for a minute and I’ll think about getting an iced coffee, or having a long leisurely sit in the park.


B. Benson is now 30 and turned out to be a workaholic. Photo: winter pearl


31 Comments / Post A Comment

Ret Marut (#3,476)

Next pseudonymous author needs a different first initial.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)


Lily Rowan (#70)

@TheDilettantista Accounts? Beloit? Wharton??

ATF (#4,229)

@TheDilettantista I am glad so many us both read the name and made the logical next step.

anne_bh (#1,778)

@TheDilettantista Look at his author photo! <3 u, Bob Benson!

On a related note, my office is doing something similar this summer and it’s faaaaantastic. We have to work an extra hour a day Monday – Thursday, and then only have to work 4 hours on Friday. I’m outta here so soon!!

SterlingCooper05 (#2,529)

@Lily Rowan Sounds like Mad Men power rankings

Lily Rowan (#70)

@SterlingCooper05 Yep. It’s what I always think now!

kellyography (#250)

I discovered the joys of summer Fridays working at Ralph Lauren. My boss had a house in the Hamptons so she would leave early on Thursday, leaving me very little to do on Friday and no reason not to leave super early for every weekend. I work in academia now, and Fridays are basically part of the weekend during the summer. I took today off because I knew nobody would be in the office anyway, including students. I will be desperately sad when I have a job where I have to stay until 6pm every day of the year.

emmabee (#2,008)

I’m on my summer Friday now (we get every other Friday totally off), and was just responding to work emails. So, thanks for this post! I’m going to go to the park now.

Lily Rowan (#70)

Summer Fridays are the best. Miss u, Summer Fridays!

Oh man, we did this last year (kind of – if you worked nine or more hour days for nine out of ten workdays, you could take that tenth day (Friday) off without using leave if your manager approved). Nobody really used it, and this year it wasn’t offered. I don’t know if that was for budget reasons or because nobody even uses their vacation time, let alone extra time off. Closing the office early seems nicer, because then you’ve got peer pressure to leave. Although we sometimes close at 3 the day before a holiday, and people are still super bad about leaving before six or seven unless they have to catch a flight. Yay, mass workaholism!

I used to work someplace where we worked 9/80 schedules (what @bowtiesarecool is describing), but the 9/80′s were taken away over the summer because that was our busy season. So I had fall-winter-spring-every-other-Fridays?

I have neither at my new job, and it’s worked out OK so far. You win some, you lose some.

missvancity (#146)

For three months every summer, we work an extra hour Monday-Thursday, and then leave early on Fridays. It is THE. BEST. I know my immediate supervisor doesn’t like it, but I try to make a point of thanking management, and saying how great it is for morale and mental health. Because it is! Summer Fridays are AMAZING!

We MAY be getting this this summer — yay! Regardless, we are going to Drunk Spelling Bee tonight. Hopefully we’ll clean up, those are my two main skillsets (drinking and spelling).

Blondsak (#2,299)

@stuffisthings Mine too! Where is this delightful event taking place?

@Blondsak Rock and Roll Hotel on H Street

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

So I have been told that we do Summer Fridays in this office, closing at TWO. But it doesn’t start until it gets officially announced, and it hasn’t been officially announced yet. I want it SO BAD because I know it might be coming and auuugh. My last job had always-early Fridays because it was a Jewish organization, so we got out at 3 on Fridays year round.

amirite (#2,677)

We close up early on occasional Fridays during the summer. Usually right before a long weekend, or if a lot of people are on vacation and the office is really quiet. The only problem is, since I can’t always tell when it’s going to happen, and since I often leave important tasks to the end of the workday, I sometimes end up staying late anyway. You would think this would teach me better time management, but NOPE.

themmases (#1,959)

I work in a hospital where it’s normal for people to start work at 6 or 7 a.m. and leave correspondingly early in the afternoon (and they really do leave unless they’re doctors), so I put myself on summer hours and just started coming in half an hour earlier and leaving at 3:30. It is glorious! And if someone needs me to stay later during the week, I smile and say yes because it lets me leave even earlier Friday.

Getting stuff done or even just sitting around in the middle of the day when most people are still at work is one of the biggest things I miss from school. Some days I just use that time to be the first person in my building home and doing laundry, but it’s actually great for my concentration at work (and probably my mental health) to know that whatever I have to do later will definitely get done, and get done early.

kstohl (#3,094)

the first school i worked at (as staff, not faculty) we got every friday off in the summer plus reduced hours during the week. it was the greatest. then at another school we had reduced hours all week long (9-3) but we did work fridays. summer hours are amazing inventions.

planforamiracle (#4,034)

We have summer fridays, though in a way it’s to make up for the extra time we put in, in April and May when our busiest time is. (I help organize and produce an annual festival.) It’s a little more loosey-goosey in that we just leave when we’re not working on anything, or sometimes my boss will send me home. He is an amazing boss and once told us all not to come in when we were forecast to have a freakishly beautiful and warm day last November.
Also, our office is not air conditioned, so it can get pretty toasty in here.

Dancercise (#94)

My last job had summer fridays where you only had to work for 3.5 hours. I got in at 7:30 everyday, so I was done before noon. It was utterly glorious.

whitneyarner (#3,346)

We had summer fridays in my job several years back when we were in Hard Times…… to make up for how we were operating under a 10% paycut. So… woo.

Bill Fostex (#573)

When I was interviewed for a job at a certain New York-based magazine, the HR person told me “[blah blah blah]… and we have Summer Fridays!” After I took the job and the first Friday came along, I asked a manager, “So, today is a Summer Friday?” and the answer was, “Well, yeah, but there’s a lot of work to do…” I never actually experienced a Summer Friday.

PicNic (#3,760)

I had been working in a hospital that was very rigid about time – you worked 8 hours a day + an unpaid 30 minute lunch so you were there 8.5 hours a day.

A few months ago I started a new job in academia and we work 7 hour days with an hour unpaid lunch (there 8 hours a day) but they are flexible so I can switch and leave early any day I need to. We just instituted Summer Flex Time – I can take any day of the week off whenever I want, and just work an extra hour 45 min the other days and not dip into my vacation time (which is also super generous).

I’m still on hospital time and get really anal about making sure I put in all my time down to the minute – my boss jokes that I have PTSD from my last boss.

(This is also the first job where I’ve felt I’m 100% fairly paid for all of my work, respected, and appreciated. It’s only 5 months in, but so far so good!)

readyornot (#816)

In my very first job (it was with the govenrment) I had the 9/80 arrangement polkadots and emmabee describe. My very favorite thing to do with my every-other-Friday off as to go to the museums on the National Mall and spend as long as I wanted in front of the paintings because everyone else was AT WORK. It felt so indulgent and also calming. Didn’t work as well in the summer – tourists.

hellonheels (#1,407)

I will preface this by saying I work 40+ hours a week like most people, almost all of it in the office, but. Almost no one on my team stays past 3 on Fridays any time of the year, and I personally (along with at least three other members of my team) don’t stay past 4 unless something major is going on. Laid-back tech companies FTW?

NoName (#3,509)

My office closes two hours early Friday, all year, and everyone leaves at that time. I make less than industry average but it’s stuff like this that keeps me working here. Our managers are geniuses.

honey cowl (#1,510)

I have literally never heard of this until today.

ceereelyo (#3,552)

I wish, though we do get to leave an hour early the day before a holiday, so on those days I make it my business to come in early. However, July is one of our busiest months and I’m already starting to feel it, but today at 4:30 (I work 830-430), because honestlyeverythingcanwaituntilmonday.

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