“Friday isn’t just my favorite day, it’s my favorite word.” And so, my Innovation Week presentation began at Vectorworks, Inc. when I was nine months pregnant in May 2018.
While most of my colleagues prepared techy “Shark Tank” presentations to better our design and BIM software for our customers, I spearheaded an effort to get Summer Fridays for my fellow coworkers. My upcoming maternity leave would technically include Summer Fridays, but I still dreamed of this perk for all summers to come.
My Summer Fridays concept — quickly renamed to “Summer Fri-YAYS” — was simple. During the weeks of Memorial Day through Labor Day, you’d have the option to work one extra hour on Monday through Thursday, so you could end your work day at 1 p.m. on Fridays.
With the help of hard-hitting stats and eye-catching designs thanks to my helpful presentation partner, Dianne Saumenig, we took our best shot with our pitch.
Here were a few key stats to build our case (reminder these are from 2018):
- A study by consulting firm CEB found that 42% of organizations offer some type of Summer Friday perk — up from 21% in 2015.
- An Opinion Research Corporation study showed 66% of employees with summer hours felt more productive. This is likely because it leads to better prioritization of work earlier in the week.
- At the time, the unemployment rate was around 4%, and companies needed to think creatively to retain and engage top talent.
My husband, Scott, loves to tell the joke that 100% of employees would rather not be working at all on Fridays. I know you’re all shocked that this statistic did not make the final presentation.
I concluded my presentation as follows in true Elle Woods or Cher Horowitz fashion (anyone unfamiliar with these ladies go watch Legally Blondeor Clueless immediately): “Let’s opt for more productive weeks this summer, increased company morale at a growing company, more time in the summer sun, and less time in grid-lock beach traffic. Say yes, to SUMMER FRI-YAYS!”
What came next still surprises me to this day. Dianne and I won the popular vote for our Innovation Week presentation.
Then a few months later, the company made an announcement that they’d be instituting “Summer FRI-YAYS.” Even better —they flat out offered everyone three bonus vacation days to be used in the summer months on any day of the week. Coincidentally, the announcement also came on the same day as my birthday. I felt overjoyed and empowered that I helped implement such a positive change at my company.
I will forever smile and possibly get slightly emotional when people share how they’d be using their bonus vacation days. One colleague shared how he’d get to take a family trip to Europe now that he had these extra vacation days.
Now with the pandemic, it can be easy to put off a much-needed break. However, I’m so glad that this initiative has continued for the second summer. I’m pregnant again and so appreciate having these extra days as I am squirreling away my PTO days for my upcoming maternity leave. And earlier today, my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary while paddleboarding and kayaking along the same waters where we got engaged.
Lastly, it’s been incredibly funny having my entire company from interns to executives wish me a “Happy FRI-YAY,” or share how they’ll be taking a Summer FRI-YAY and will be out of the office.