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'Summer Fridays' are said to increase productivity, so why don't more businesses do it?

When warm weather takes over and the sun stays out past 8 p.m., working in an office on Friday afternoon in the summertime can be a drag. Unproductivity seeps in and completing the most miniscule task feels like an impossible feat. The average worker may yearn to be outside, basking in sunshine, and enjoying the precious summer months.

The concept of Summer Fridays and flexible working hours has been around for years and is popular in some European countries, experts say. During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in the U.S. took the extra steps to introduce summer Fridays into the workplace.

Summer Fridays is one of many ways companies are honoring their employees' need for a better work-life-balance.

What are summer Fridays?

Summer Fridays are a benefit that some companies in the U.S. provide to employees, allowing them to take off early on a Friday afternoon during the summer months. The benefit usually begins Memorial Day weekend at the end of May and ends Labor Day weekend, at the beginning of September. Some companies allow workers to take the entire day off, or leave a few hours early in the afternoon.

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Companies may provide this benefit every other Friday, or provide flexibility to employees during the summer in an unofficial capacity.

Courtney Clark, an author and consultant who works with businesses on employee retention previously told USA TODAY, when employees incorporate more meaningful activities in their lives like volunteering or spending time with friends and family, it can reduce burnout and increase employee retention.

"Fridays off can mitigate burnout because it allows employees space to include actions that are more meaningful to them,” said Clark.

What companies provide Summer Fridays?

The trend of Summer Fridays predates 2020, but picked up during the pandemic. As life slowed down during the pandemic, some companies did trial runs of shorter summer work weeks.

Well-known companies that provide Summer Fridays include: IBM, Pfizer, Estee Lauder, Condé Nast, Viacom, Leaf Group, Meredith, and Core Digital Media.

Other companies provide a weeklong shutdown during the summer months, including EY, MUD\WTR, and KPMG, according to reporting from Morning Brew.

This perk is seen as an added luxury: White collar jobs that are based around a computer are more likely to provide this benefit compared to jobs that require employees to be in action every day of the week. Experts point to hospitality and healthcare as two industries that are less likely to have flexibility in summer months. On the other hand, marketing and media jobs may have more summertime flexibility.

What are the benefits of Summer Friday's

Vicki Salemi is a career expert with Monster.com, an online recruiting company. Salemi said one of the top benefits that job seekers and employees look for in addition to salary is work-life-balance. "Employees want to prevent burnout, they want work life balance, and most importantly flexibility in terms of where and when they work." said Salemi.

Overseas countries in Europe are leading the way with a "work to live" mentality not "live to work," according to Salemi.

A poll by Monster.com from last year found that two-thirds of workers that receive summer benefits, such as reduced working hours, additional days off, flexible dress code said such increase their work productivity. Another 41% of workers said in the poll that they most value a 4-day work week or full Summer Fridays off.

How can companies implement Summer Fridays?

Experts recommend introducing summer Fridays with a pilot program and having a flexible mindset. Fridays may be the busiest day of the week for some companies, and instead should switch to Summer Monday's. "With a four day workweek there can be flexibility in terms of when and where employees work," said Salemi.

Overall experts say it's important for companies to think about Summer Fridays as a value add: a benefit that can help retain the current workforce and attract new talent.

The results are in: How many remote workers are there in 2024?

Report: Workers are living further from employer, more are living 50 miles from the office

Contributing: Emily Bohatch, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What Summer Fridays mean in US business culture and how they happened