Today more than ever, choosing where and whom to work for is in the employees’ hands. And as different generations become business leaders, they’ve led the way in how we do work.
From remote work to better benefits and perks, 4-day workweeks, Summer hours, and Flex Fridays. There is an abundance of companies exploring those options to make work better for their people.
After all, burnout, work unhappiness, and lower productivity are real problems (especially in the United States). For example, workplace stress is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion dollars, and each year, 550 million workdays are lost due to stress on the job (APA).
This is exactly why more companies are looking for ways to improve work/life balance. And one option that has shown promise is Flex Fridays.
Below is everything you need to know about this work arrangement and if it’s something your company should do or you should explore at your current job.
What are Flex Fridays?
Flex (or Flexible) Fridays is a popular option that gives employees more work freedom on how they’d like to spend their time each Friday. Employees can choose to work or spend time on something personal outside of work. The only requirement of a Flex Friday is no meetings or check-ins should be scheduled.
The point of Flex Fridays are a few different things:
- Allow a day of deep work without interruptions if needed
- Give employees the freedom of how to best use their time
- Build better employee happiness, trust, and productivity
The workplace is changing for the better and the way we do work also is improving.
As a company leader, when you better trust your people, amazing things happen. People WANT to work for your company and are more excited about the company they represent. Providing a Flex Friday policy shows you value the people at your organization.
For the job seeker out there, don’t be afraid to ask if Flex Fridays are an option during your interviews. Also, you can look for jobs that have that as a benefit or perk in their job listings.
Many organizations who have implemented this policy will actively call it out even before your interview. It’s a great sign that the company values employees and wants to empower a trusting culture.
And don’t worry if your current job does not offer it. Later on in this post, I have some simple tips to help you negotiate a Flex Friday option!
The Value of Flex Fridays for Everyone
From the definition above, you probably are getting a good idea about the value of Flex Fridays.
Whether you run a company or are an employee, there are benefits for both sides of implementing a flexible schedule.
And the data points and results back up that more people want flexible work schedules. Although that demand has been rising for years, the pandemic in 2020 really woke more people up when they experienced working from home.
- In a Gartner survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours helped them be more productive.
- Over half of employees surveyed by EY from around the world would consider leaving their job after the pandemic if they are not given some form of flexibility in where and when they work
Benefits to the Employee
- A day of no meetings and interruptions (deep work)
- Personal time to refuel and get errands done
- Time to level-up skills and education
- More autonomy to do self-directed work
- Less stress and improved work/life balance
Benefits to the Organization
- Better employee engagement and happiness
- More interest in others wanting to work for your company
- Increased productivity by employees
- Better workplace retention, employees staying longer
What Companies Offer Flex Fridays?
The cool thing about Flex Fridays is there are quite a few companies offering this. Typically, those that are hiring remotely also tend to be the type of company to implement this option.
I see these two work policies going together really well (remote + flex). But it can be a mix, so don’t rule out in-office or hybrid organizations either!
Founded in 2015, Cockroach Labs is a software company and creator of CockroachDB, a highly evolved cloud-native, distributed SQL database.
And in 2016, the U.S.-based company began experimenting with “Free Fridays” as they dubbed it. Essentially, for their teams to be in a 4-day workweek cycle.
Yet in 2019 as their company grew, they wanted to re-evaluate this and realized not every team could afford to be off on Fridays completely. But leadership wanted to ensure a good work/life balance remained, so they then morphed Free Fridays into Flex Fridays.
“All across the company, one thing remains true: Fridays are a great day to remove meetings, make room for focus, and create a more balanced work week altogether.” Read more about Cockroach Labs Flex Friday evolution.
Although software or fully remote companies seem to embrace flexible policies more often, other industries are jumping on board. Textron Systems provides innovative solutions to the defense, homeland security, and aerospace communities.
And back in 2021, they introduced some variations to the Flex Friday work environment. In a short interview, they did with Comparably, the company shared more about their compressed workweek schedules for employees.
Depending on job function and location, the company offers a 9/80 schedule (every other Friday off), a 4/10 schedule (every Friday off), or a combination of the two. While not as traditional as some Flex Friday policies, the company found this allows employees a better work/life balance.
Front is a customer communication platform that in late 2021 made Flexible Fridays a permanent part of working at the company. What’s also cool is they documented the announcement, findings, and why they chose to do this.
The company noticed employee burnout was growing during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more employees feeling disengaged with their work. Front wanted to find a solution to try something new and improve the way everyone works.
While they considered 4-day workweeks, they also had some challenges there too and decided a Flex Friday schedule could be a good solution. The results?
- 89% of employees say they work happier because of Flexible Friday
- 87% of employees say Flexible Fridays have positively impacted their desire to work at Front for the next two years
I highly recommend reading the post about their Flex Friday Schedule, really interesting stuff.
Flex Fridays Vs. Summer Fridays
Some companies aren’t ready to establish Flex Fridays year-round. So instead, they look at implementing Summer Fridays to monitor how it goes. Summer Fridays allow employees the same freedoms as Flex Fridays, but it is only implemented during a timeframe in the Summer months.
Many organizations implement this work practice over a standard Flex Friday. I had something similar to this when I worked at a marketing agency. It would last from the beginning of June through the first week of September.
It’s a cool perk as an employee to enjoy the nicer weather and get a jump start on the weekend. Plus, I felt more eager and productive come Monday morning.
If your company is not doing any sort of flexible workweek yet, trying Summer Fridays could be the perfect experiment before implementing a year-round Flex Friday.
Flex Fridays Vs. 4-Day Workweeks
After reading the above, you might be wondering why more companies don’t offer a 4-day workweek or why don’t job seekers look for 4-day workweek companies instead?
- For companies, it’s a big change in the way the workplace operates. And Flex Fridays give the organization an easier way to experiment and understand the impact on the business.
- For job seekers, surprisingly not many employees will take a 3-day weekend but not work every Friday. Instead, data has shown that workers prefer to be trusted and have the freedom to choose if or how they work.
As listed in our company examples above, Front is an organization experimenting with Flex Fridays. They figured more people would take the day off, but when they first implemented they found some interesting stats.
Just under 44% of their employees take Friday as a mixed-use day. Basically, they spend some time on work and some time on personal activities. And about 4% of employees use the day for personal/family time, and 7.6% use the day for PTO (source).
Interesting, right? And not exactly what Front was expecting either.
Now it may vary in different businesses, but the flexibility and trust in the company are what really benefit employees. So even though a 4-day workweek could be a great policy, Flex Fridays might be even better!
How To Negotiate Flex Fridays
If you are a company reading this post, hopefully, the above has given you lots to think about. Flex Fridays can be a rewarding perk to offer your teams!
But what if you already have a job and your company doesn’t offer any flexible options? Well, you can try to negotiate a Flex Friday schedule with your manager. Here are a few tips to get you in the right direction, whether you work remotely or in-office.
1. Review the employee handbook
Understand their current policies and see how a Flex Friday option could fit in.
2. Have your talking points of Flex Fridays ready
Research the concept, understand some data and stats, and even use this post! You want to be prepared for any questions that might be asked of you.
3. Explain why you’d like Flex Fridays personally
Explain why it matters to you and how you think it can help the quality of work and overall happiness of the workplace.
4. Ask for a trial period to start
Generally, some skepticism may exist with your manager. Instead, just start with mention that you understand some potential hesitation and suggest that you’d like to have a trial period. That could be for a quarter or during Summer, etc.
Hopefully, you’ll have good managers and leaders who are willing to give Flex Fridays a chance. It might not be a company-wide trial yet, but getting some support to see how it goes could help put a full policy in place.
If you are completely shut down, don’t show your frustration. Thank them for their time in listening to you and moving on. From there, evaluate if this is a company you see yourself working at long-term.
Maybe your employer offers remote work and great benefits and salaries already, which then a Flex Friday may not be a “make or break” for you. But if the company is afraid of innovation and seems to be toxic, then start looking elsewhere to better your work/life balance.
Cheers to flexible work schedules!