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Summer Hours: Good or Bad?

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    MIAMI BEACH, FL - JUNE 11: Claudia Groetzinger (L) does a head stand as Brittany Ganson, a registered yoga teacher, conducts a class June 11, 2008 in Miami Beach, Florida. As the U.S. economy continues to struggle, studies have shown that financial-related stress can lead to health issues. Some workers are turning to stress management workouts such as yoga, where Brittany Ganson says students try to find their inner peace and forget their problems as they participate in the yoga class. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Brittany Ganson;Claudia Groetzinger

    This past week saw the transit of Venus, so that can only mean one thing: summer is coming! And with the shifting of the seasons and the celestial bodies, so, too, does the opportunity for you to institute summer hours for your employees if you so wish. Summer hours is where you let workers knock off early on Fridays, provided their work for the week is all done, and they put in a few extra hours Monday through Thursday.

    So, should you let your people do that?

    It's tough to say. If you're a burgeoning startup, can you really spare the man-hours at all, even if they're redistributed? On the other hand, you might get happier and therefore more productive employees.

    "Having run two successful start-ups with drastically different styles, I can say that flexibility programs like summer hours are definitely a good thing for start-ups," said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO/founder of flexjobs.com. "Several studies within the last year have concluded that flexible work arrangements increase productivity, reduce operating costs, and increase employee satisfaction so it's a win-win option for companies and employees.""

    However, as Suki Shah, co-founder and CEO of gethired.com points out "in the case of smaller start-ups, where fewer people work together to elicit amazing results, summer Fridays run the risk of draining productivity."

    Does this mean, then, that universally if you're a super-tiny company it's a bad idea, and if you're a bigger startup or company it's a good idea? Sort of. "I don't suggest summer hours for industries such as manufacturing where round-the-clock work truly equals success," warned Monique Tatum, CEO of Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR.

    There are other ways to sweeten the deal, too, like letting employees wear shorts and T-shirts, or ordering free sandwiches for everyone. Steve Langerud, a workplace consultant and the director of professional opportunities at DePauw University, had this to say: "We are programmed for summer hours from childhood. Like Pavlov's dog, we salivate for summer… [and] change gets our attention and improves performance. No one works less on summer hours, but the change makes us look a little bit differently at our work. Think about it like the muscle-confusion method when you work out."

    Ultimately, I guess you just have to ask yourself: Do you want to increase performance or keep it where she's at?

    David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.