In late June, we announced a Summer Fridays policy that fully closed every FM:Systems office worldwide for all five Fridays in July.
Why? We wanted to show our teams that we recognized and appreciated their hard work and unwavering dedication to our customers and our business throughout the challenges of the pandemic. Although we’re not alone – 55% of American companies across industries had instituted some sort of Summer Friday policy as of 2019 – we wanted to ensure this time was truly rejuvenating and rewarding for everyone. We weren’t just going to skip out a couple hours early on Friday. Just like the mentality we bring to building great solutions and delivering great service for our customers, we went all in and closed the company on Friday during July. No work. No emails. No meetings. Just relaxing and enjoying well deserved time off.
As with any new policy, it was important to find out what our employees actually thought of it. Without their input, we could only hope and assume that the way the policy was experienced the way it was intended. Being an employee and data driven organization, we weren’t just going to make assumptions, we asked for feedback. These are the four main themes that emerged from their input and our experience as a business:
First, surprise. Then, deliver.
Our employees reported being both surprised and excited about the decision to go all-in on Summer Fridays in July. Training specialist Tammi Hollis summed up the prevailing mentality when she said, “I was super excited to hear about this and I was so humbled our management wanted to give back to the employees to show their appreciation for everyone’s hard work.”
Even so, even the best laid plans and intentions can sometimes fail to live up to expectations. With teams who care so much about their work, it can be hard to step back and really unplug and recharge. As director of digital marketing Brian McDonald pointed out, “the idea only works when everyone adheres to it. If some people don’t and then email everyone on Friday it can cause problems.”
But in this case, the program worked exactly as designed. Customer success manager Daniella Norman said: “The reality of the experience exceeded my expectations. I was slightly worried I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all my tasks in a 4-day work week, but I honestly think I was more productive.”
Family comes first, especially with more free time.
With a diverse and global workforce, it’s no surprise that everyone reported using their newfound free time differently. And unsurprisingly, more time with family was one of the most appreciated advantages of more time off.
Brian McDonald spent more time with his teenage son who works nights during the week and sometimes puts in a double shift on weekends. He appreciated the opportunity to play a round of golf and have lunch together. Similarly, global director of strategic alliances Ben Finney rented a boat with his wife one Friday, enjoying the day of pre-planned daycare to just relax in a way a full work schedule doesn’t allow. Tammi Hollis was even able to fly her granddaughter back home to Florida after a week-long visit without taking PTO!
New projects and adventures join the party.
The extra day off also gave our people more time to dig into back-burner passion projects. As Tammi Hollis pointed out, the extra day gave her time to do things she may not have made time for otherwise: “I feel the three days felt like “real” time off and I didn’t have to cram home projects and fun into two days!”
Many others took the opportunity to get out of town and have an adventure. Austin-based global account manager Greg Hibbin even took a month-long road trip to Colorado through New Mexico, visiting Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Santa Fe, Vail, Denver, The Garden of the Gods and Taos.
Maybe no one packed more action into the month of July than Daniella Norman, who played in three Friday spikeball tournaments (with two top-three finishes to boot!). She also sold an investment property, took a 12-day trip to Denver, spent time with her sister, nieces and nephews, got really into baking, and learned to love empty Friday pool days.
Personal relaxation meets professional excellence.
It’s widely acknowledged that additional time off policies during the warmer months boosts productivity and employee morale. Our people reported that closing the entire company on Fridays made it easier to not work on those days off – even those who admit to struggling to unplug during most PTO – and everyone reported a reduction in stress and renewed focus and productivity during the week.
From a business perspective, July was a great month all around. We continued to integrate the WizzPass visitor management solution into our portfolio after the June acquisition. We announced our agreement to resell JLL’s hybrid workforce app JLL Jet and brought in new Chief Revenue Officer Josh Langford to replace retiring CRO Skip Yakopec.
Now, we’re back to a normal five-day work week. Although no one knows what the world has in store for us moving forward, we do know we’re refreshed and ready to take it on full force.