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Summer Fridays

Time to get to the beach
Time to get to the beach
Paul Marotta/Getty images for Real Simple

Summer Fridays

Allegedly inaugurated by the real life Mad Men advertising firms in the 1960s, Summer Fridays live on in certain companies. “Summer Fridays “is the policy or practice of letting workers out as early as 1:00 pm on each Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Or, in some companies, employees form a ‘buddy system’ where two employees take turns working a full day and not working at all. When employees have to commute an hour or more to get to work (common in New York) this is a more practical way to start the barbeque early.

Now, fewer companies offer summer Fridays, although it’s a mainstay at media, publishing and advertising firms, particularly in New York. Those companies who do offer this perk cite the benefits of letting employees leave work early on Fridays. According to a 2012 poll conducted by the Corporate Executive Board, a the companies that planned some form of summer hours cited employee engagement as the top reason for implementing summer hours, followed by increased productivity. And offering this perk makes the 0% salary increase just a bit easier to take.

Companies that have cut back, eliminated, or refused to offer this Summer Fridays claim that it sends the wrong message. Is summer really less important than the rest of the year? And for the leave-early version of Summer Fridays, when does 1:00 slip to 12:30 and so onward?

Another problem that employers cite is that Summer Fridays can create a too casual environment. Casual Fridays turn into super-casual Fridays. “Summer Casual” to some employees means beach or athletic wear. That would seem an easy problem to solve with expectations properly set, but there must be some people who don’t get it as this reason turns up regularly on employer and industry polls.

If you are among the lucky employees eligible for Summer Fridays, enjoy them while you can. As Mad Men’s character Don Draper knows, a good opportunity to vanish from the office is just too good to waste.