Life Hacking Office Hours

Adding four more productive hours per week by taking Friday afternoon off

A few years ago we changed our office schedule from 8-5, Monday through Friday, to 7:30-5:30 Monday through Thursday and 7:30-11:30 on Friday, often referred to as “summer” hours by many companies. We thought we would give it a try for a few months over the summer and see how it went, expecting that we would eventually switch back to more traditional hours.

Well, two years later, we still have “summer hours” year round.

There are many benefits, like everyone knows that they can schedule appointments on Friday afternoons without needing to take PTO time, which directly translates into fewer out-of-office hours during the week. Another benefit is if someone is going to be out of town over the weekend, they can take off all of Friday by only using 4 hours of PTO, allowing them to get a jump start on their weekend.

However, the biggest advantage that we see is that nothing ever happens on Friday afternoons anyway. Most people spent Friday afternoons just running out the clock with the weekend on their minds. We also found it extremely hard to conduct any business Friday afternoons. Our overall productivity was at its absolute lowest those last four hours of each week. I like to think we are now maximizing our time by evenly distributing these wasted hours throughout the other days of the week to optimize performance.

Occasionally there will be a commitment or meeting which can only be conducted on a Friday afternoon, but they are typically limited to me or our sales team. But it does not happen very often, and these meetings usually take place virtually anyway, allowing people to attend from home.

There are two downsides that I have seen with our year-round summer hours. The first is that once the time changes off of daylight savings and the days get shorter, you are arriving at work before the sunrise and leaving at sunset, which can be very depressing up in the Dakotas. The second is that if you have staff with school age children, most of the after-school programs are geared towards the traditional 8-5 hours, which means a few staff need to bail a bit early due to family commitments. But the benefits we have seen far out-weigh the downsides.

The open Friday afternoons give me the opportunity to work on non-BrightPlanet tasks. A typical Friday afternoon includes committee meetings, coffee with friends, work on my blog, starting up side projects, trips to the gym, and I often fit in a family event as well.

If you are in a position to control your businesses work schedule, I would encourage you to take a serious look at what gets accomplished from noon to 5pm on Friday afternoons. If it is filled with yawning, Facebook time, excessive socialization at the water cooler or prolific PTO time, why not recoup that time during the first part of the week?

I would love to hear about how you leverage office hours. Please send me a Tweet at @wbushee, or drop me an email. After all, shouldn’t we all use the best of our valuable time?

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