5 Reasons Summer Fridays Are the Perk Working Moms Don’t Really Want
Every year, we have a staff meeting I’ve come to loathe more than all the rest. It’s the one when my boss excitedly tells our team that HR has, once again, decided to give us summer Fridays. Anyone who peeks into the room during her announcement would think we were all getting promotions. Everybody beams—except for me, the only mom in the bunch.
Turns out, this year more than 40 percent of companies have built summer Fridays into their benefit packages, according to CEB, a research and advisory company. That number has nearly doubled in just two years. Why the sudden uptick? Employees have a rosier outlook on their job prospects, and employers want a cheap way to keep workers happy (i.e. on their payroll).
But as glorious as long weekends are, summer Fridays were clearly designed for people without kids. Here’s why.
1. Summer Fridays aren’t actually free time off. You have to earn them. At my company, to participate in summer Fridays, we’re required to work ahead to “make up” the hours we’ll be skipping on Friday. That means I have to be at my desk for four extra hours on Monday through Thursday. To keep a healthy work-life balance, I crank for eight hours every day (and through my mandated 30-minute lunch) and then I’m out the door. Like most working Americans, I’m on email and text 24/7—you just won’t see my smiling face in the office at 8 p.m.
2. Your “flexible” schedule is at the mercy of your co-workers. The few people I’ve chosen to vent to about this ask why I don’t just log my hours early in the day. My night-owl teammates—whom I adore, by the way—make me seem like the ultimate early bird for starting my day at 9 a.m. They come in late and stay late, and when the company’s on summer hours, they stay really late. That means later meetings are fair game. My boss is super-cool about me leaving early now and then, but missing meetings on the regular is out of the question. And even if I didn’t take advantage of summer hours, I’d be the only one in the department skipping out (read: still missing meetings).
3. Your partner has to shuffle schedules, too. During the school year, I’m on daycare pickup duty. Now that I work late most of the week, the task shifts to my husband. That’s usually OK, and he’s happy to do it, but sometimes his job requires him to leave town on very short notice. So, despite my best intentions of sticking it out with my co-workers, I occasionally have to duck out early. Our daycare charges $5 per minute (yes, minute!) for a child who’s still there past 6 p.m., and I never, ever want to be that parent.
4. Summer Fridays don’t mean Family Fridays. No-brainer: More hours at the office mean less time at home with my kiddo. But I also can’t make up our missed time together on Friday afternoons. I mean, I could pick him up early, but we’re shelling out the big bucks for his spot at daycare whether or not he’s in the building. Plus, we all know randomly changing a little kid’s routine spells mayhem for the rest of the day.
5. You feel like a slacker at home (or at least I do). I can clean like crazy on Friday afternoons—because I’m certain that’s what the inventor of summer hours intended—but what I can’t do is help make weeknight dinners or entertain our little ball of energy while my husband cooks. The moments I miss while I’m stuck at my desk are the all-hands-on-deck times at our house.
I have a simple solution to all of this. Bosses, why not just give us Friday afternoons off, with no formal expectation of workers making up the time? We’re constantly connected to our colleagues, tapping away on our phones at all hours, all year. Expect that we’ll get the job done—on time and on point. We’ll owe it to you, the company that trusts us.