Summer is a sacred time, especially if you’re based in a region that’s winter 6 months out of the year like it is here in Boston. For the last 3 years, mabl employees enjoyed Summer Fridays where the office is closed and the team is encouraged to have some summertime adventures with their family and friends.
The reasons for Summer Fridays is twofold. There are plenty of sources that support that having more flexibility during the summer results in higher morale, productivity, and employee retention. But more than that, work should never compete with family. We have a very family-friendly culture here at mabl where it’s not unusual to see someone’s child at the office for the day, sitting quietly at a desk, playing cornhole or shuffleboard in the lawn area, or swinging on the swing set. An extra day a week in the Summer to spend with those we work to support just goes hand-in-hand with our culture.
Now that summer is (tragically) coming to an end, I thought I would recap and share how our team spent our Summer Fridays, address potential challenges of having a shortened work week, and share words of advice for those of you who may be considering advocating for it at your company.
Bridget, Sales Operations
“I love summer Fridays because I think it ‘enforced’ the startup attitude of 'work-life balance as long as you are getting your work done.' I feel like an open PTO policy alone isn't enough because a lot of employees end up taking even less vacation than normal, because there is this added element of wondering how much PTO is too much. If everyone is off on Fridays, and just works longer hours during the week, then we can all enjoy more of our lives and hobbies outside the office, without feeling guilty or stressed.”
At the beginning of the summer, we started a #fridayfunday Slack channel where we could inflict some serious cases of FOMO on each other. From family trips to the Children’s Museum in Boston, to beach hopping, to eating a salad that looks like sushi, to fancy car shows, we shared special moments with each other on Slack.
Many took advantage of the beautiful weather and the outdoors ☀️
“Summer Fridays gave me a lot of opportunities to get out and get some exercise while checking out new areas of Boston and the Northeast. I love cycling around the city/greater Boston area on a Friday when there is minimal midday traffic.”
Lindsay, UX Researcher
“I saw my family a lot, which was nice. They live outside of the state so an extra day for travel makes a huge difference in the amount of time I get to spend with them.”
“I got to go to New York City. The extra travel time on Friday morning made the trip more reasonable to make.”
“The weekends are always clogged with other people doing the same fun things I want to do, so it’s nice to do those things on a Friday when no one else is around. I’m happy to make up the extra work with longer days or over the weekend because of that.”
Most enjoyed Fridays for getting more personal errands done 💪
“I got to go grocery shopping, take trips to the car dealership - any place that is normally packed on the weekend - during the weekdays. It takes less time to run these errands on Friday which means I get to actually relax on Saturdays and Sundays.”
“I was able to schedule my dad’s regular doctor's appointments for Fridays and take care of that without taking time away from work.”
Others took advantage of the free day for advancing their career 👌
“I used the peaceful Fridays at home to learn the new stuff I needed to learn to get ramped up at mabl. It turned into a learning Friday."
Thomas, Junior Product Manager
“I stayed at the office longer, but the 3 day weekend was worth it. I took a product strategy class which I was able to apply to my current position at mabl.”
3 words: FOUR 👏 DAY 👏 WEEKENDS 👏
“Whenever a holiday fell on a Monday, it turned into a 4-day weekend which was great!”
What about job roles that CAN'T take Fridays off?
Sure, Friday Funday and all, but what if your role requires you to be online all 5 days of the week? This year at mabl was the first time we didn’t have a blanket Summer Friday policy for all departments. As a result, Customer Support and Sales had to stay online, but they still enjoyed lax Fridays and a lot of flexibility.
“We had ‘Sales team Fridays’ where we worked on Friday, but we made it fun. We blasted music and went out for team lunches. Realistically, in sales, you’re always online anyway. Even if we didn’t have ‘Sales Team Fridays’ and had the traditional Summer Fridays off, I still would have been checking email and Slack while working from home.”
Cornel, Customer Support
“With the extra flexibility, I was able to work while traveling. One weekend I was still able to take all my calls on my way to New Orleans. Traveling over the weekend is overall easier without the restriction of being in the office.”
6 tips for making your Summer Fridays a success
So we talked about the fun part of having Summer Fridays, but how does the team make sure we get to keep Summer Friday privileges the next year? Here are the guidelines we came up with that helped us make sure the bottom line wasn't affected.
1. If you’re going to work away from home, make sure you'll have access to good WiFi wherever you end up.
Seems obvious... but is it?
2. Stay accountable for your work.
When you’re not reporting to the office every day, it might be a challenge for some to get the same amount of work done. Set strict deadlines, prioritize your tasks, and plan your day before it begins.
“I usually planned every day in my head and made sure each hour I was up to speed.” - Lindsay
3. Get done what you need to get done.
If there’s work you didn’t wrap up before Friday, you have to accept that you might need to bring it home. After all, Summer Fridays is a privilege and implies that the company trusts how you spend your time - and trust goes both ways.
“We’re all grownups, so we expect that everyone’s going to get things done when they
need to regardless of the extra day off.” - Eugene
4. Set expectations around communication.
In previous years, we had strict no-Slack rules in order to ensure that no one would feel guilted into working and that it wouldn't snowball into work-from-home Fridays. But as I mentioned earlier, this year we needed to have some teams working on Summer Friday. We had to set clear communication guidelines to make sure working teams were supported.
“Lack of communication wasn’t a problem at mabl. We were always really responsive on
Slack and we always had an engineer on call to help us out if we had any issues we
couldn’t answer on a Friday.” - Cornell
5. Keep the number of meetings down
With a shorter work week, you need to be considerate of everyone trying to stay focused on their tasks. Be thoughtful and intentful when you schedule a meeting. Can it be easily resolved with an email or a Slack discussion?
“Meetings felt more like a time suck with a short week. They can end up being a huge distraction” - Lauren
6. Keep up the intensity.
At the end of the day, you're front-loading your work so you can play harder later. If you want to take full advantage of having Fridays off, you just have to follow through with a stricter timetable. It's as simple as that.
“4 day work weeks made me work a little harder and stay more directed.” - Mike
I hope you enjoyed peering into the startup lifestyle here at mabl. It's not for everyone, but if you felt any tinges of jealousy, just come work here! You can check out our open roles at our careers page: https://www.mabl.com/join-the-team
NOW GET BACK TO WORK! 😛