Summertime Hours

16 June, 2014

With the right to request flexible working being opened up to all employees from the end of this month, and the summer holidays well upon us, employers might find themselves considering the benefits of introducing flexible working arrangements such as summertime hours.

What are summertime hours?

Well, they vary from company to company but some of the most common practices are:

  • Half day Fridays;
  • A shortened work day on multiple days;
  • Compressed working weeks;
  • Working from home one day a week.

Who’s doing it and why?

This is not a new concept. Summer Fridays were introduced by New York ad agencies in the 1960s. Now an increasing number of companies including McDonalds, Microsoft and Pfizer have followed in their footsteps and offer their employees summertime hours.

The pros…..?

They can be an effective tool for increasing productivity and improving employee morale by helping employees achieve that elusive work-life balance (if only for the summer months!) It can increase employee retention and be an incentive for attracting new talent, as well as reducing lateness and absences. Employees also benefit when working from home from cuts in commuting time and costs.

…..and the cons?

Having adequate staffing levels and enough productivity are the biggest obstacles because business is not always slower during the summer. This can result in an inability to meet customer needs or business requirement.

An increase in stress levels for employees if they need to make up for lost hours, or a reduction in staff morale where a business in unable to offer summertime hours to all.

What should employers consider before implementing summertime hours?

  • Consider whether all staff will be able to participate and the consequences if not. What about hourly paid, part time and shift workers?
  • Have a policy in place which enables an employer to change summer working arrangements when the needs of the business require.
  • Ensure the policy is clear as to what is expected of staff. There will be times when staff will need to forego the summer hours when the business demands.
  • Train managers to ensure that the agreed upon arrangements are maintained.
  • Once implemented ensure that systems and checks will be in place to monitor performance and productivity to ensure that the arrangement is still working.