While a recent survey found that employees covet summer hours, employers aren’t always on board – and maybe for good reason.
A new survey from Captivate Network has found summer hours are bad for businesses and employees alike. The findings, part of the most recent Captivate Office Pulse, are based on responses from more than 600 white-collar workers in North America. Just under half of those surveyed (49 percent) report working for an organization that offers summer hours (telecommuting, four 10 hour day workweeks, etc.) and the same percentage report a decrease in productivity.
Summer itself has a negative impact on the workplace. People report productivity goes down (20 percent), attendance dips (19 percent), project turnaround times increase (13 percent) and they are more distracted (45 percent). The addition of summer hours only exacerbates these problems. For example, 53 percent of employees who leave early on Fridays report a drop in personal productivity and 23 percent those who make up for fewer Friday hours by working longer hours from Monday to Thursday report that their stress levels increase.
“These are surprising – and perhaps unwelcome – findings,” said Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network. “On the face of it, summer hours probably seem like a terrific idea and are welcome by all. Unfortunately, the impact is almost uniformly negative. Given the state of the economy and the unease felt by many workers, perhaps it’s time to reconsider these types of policies.”
The Office Pulse looked at the impact of several popular approaches to flexibility during the summer months: telecommuting, working longer days from Monday to Thursday so Fridays could be shortened or taken off, closing early on Fridays and permitting people to arrive and leave early. Virtually all of them had a negative impact. The table below represents the percentage of workers reporting a change in their workplace in the summer:
|Companies offering||Employees Reporting Decreased Productivity in their Workplace||Employees Reporting Increased Stress in their Workplace|
|Telecommuting||4 percent||43 percent||14 percent|
|Increased hours Monday-Thursday||12 percent||52 percent||23 percent|
|Early closing on Fridays||4 percent||80 percent||16 percent|
|Early arrival/departure||10 percent||51 percent||21 percent|
|Other (unspecified)||6 percent||67 percent||16 percent|
|No specific policy but flexibility permitted||23 percent||52 percent||17 percent|
|Summer hours prohibited||51 percent||46 percent||16 percent|
Of the approaches listed above, only telecommuting has a positive impact with 26 percent of respondents reporting an increase in their productivity. But only 4 percent of companies make this available to their employees. Telecommuting is also the only approach that results in lower employee stress than prohibiting summer hours all together.
“Summertime is a tough time in the workplace,” said DiFranza, “and too many businesses are decreasing productivity and increasing stress in an attempt to be flexible. While there are many reasons that may contribute to this drop in productivity, we have seen some interesting correlations. For example, people reporting a drop in productivity also report an increase in socializing with co-workers (63 percent), taking extended lunch breaks (51 percent) and leaving early a few days a week (49 percent). Summer hours programs are put in place with the very best of intentions, and I’m sure with some adjustments they can meet the needs of companies and employees alike.”