My Outlook

It's got to be Friday somewhere...

Have you got a major project that needs doing? Start it on a Tuesday. It's the day of the week we are most productive. Do you have a meeting or event that will require input from others? Schedule it for a Wednesday. It's the day we are most collaborative.

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Or so we are told by those who study such patterns. 

The day we are least likely to be effective on the job? Fridays…of course. There's just something different about a Friday. It has a distinctive feel--an emotion all its own that sets a different tone than any other day. Perhaps it's a carry over from the world of education when our days as students made us anticipate the arrival of a Friday and a weekend away from school.

There are more than 5000 song lyrics and album titles featuring the word Friday--five times more than those that talk about Thursday, and there seems to be a constant countdown to the day. It's unique within the week and in some ways feels more casual than other days. 

Many companies have long recognized this and have turned it into a perk by offering "Summer Fridays". Employees are allowed--no, correct that--encouraged to leave early on a Friday and extend their weekend by a few hours. A cosmetics company headquartered in New York has been shutting down its corporate office at 1:30 pm on Fridays for the past 20 summers. Others took a bit longer to sign on but a survey of Fortune 1000 companies found that 42% now offer some version of a "Summer Friday", a stat that is 20% higher than just two years ago.

Employees love it--and companies are reaping the benefits. Research suggests employees feel more valued and work harder, report higher levels of job satisfaction and demonstrate greater commitment to the company. That's a big pay-off for a few hours on a Friday afternoon. 

But some are quick to point out not all is quite so rosy. Some managers say they don't want to give the impression there is a "slow time" for their business because it sends the wrong message. Another analyst was concerned with how difficult it could be for employees to transition back into a full fall schedule when September rolls around.

Some places have year-long practices, like TGI Fridays whose Dallas headquarters becomes a party every Friday afternoon at 2:00 before sending employees home to start their weekend early. Of course this happens only at the headquarters. All the staff at their restaurants are hard at work taking care of customers. As are many other people whose job doesn't have flexibility and whose work can't be put off because it's Friday. Or summer.

But perhaps it's not a function of the perk itself as much as it is looking forward to all that a summer day might have in store and wanting to be sure we can fully take it all in. 

Is any day of the week less or more important than any other as it relates to quality of work or what we get done? The answer is a resounding no. Yet, do we bring a different mindset to different days? It seems many do--or so we've come to believe. In particular it would seem many ascribe to the laid-back Friday. But at what point does it reflect the nature of our work and at what point does it simply become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Maybe it's just our desire to thoroughly embrace the opportunities offered by a beautiful time of the year and to extend the hours that can be spent outdoors, or on the road, or in anticipation of the kind of activities that dot our summer schedules.

The wistfulness some may express over those who have options for flex time or extra hours off in the summer  months may not be as much about their job as it is about having enough time to fully embrace all that the season has to offer. It may not get its own song, but if it truly is about mindset then getting up extra early on a summer Tuesday morning can be every bit as glorious as hours away from the office on a Friday afternoon. That's my outlook.

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