New York
CNN
 — 

Happy day-after-summer-solstice.

With any luck, if your employer has instituted a Summer Fridays policy,you’ll get to knock off work early or even take the whole day off.

It’s always been a popular perk — because who doesn’t want to start their weekend early?

However, the majority of employees may not even have that option. Only 13% of US employees, for instance, said their organizations had Summer Fridays, in a 2023 survey commissioned by consulting and research firm Gartner.

Among US employers, a survey last year from HR consulting firm Mercer found that only 19% said they offered summer working hours, up from 15% in 2021.

Nevertheless, some employees may have even better options today, thanks to the transformation ofwork culture spurred by thepandemic. With so many people forced to work from home for long stretches, employers had to quickly get accustomed to giving employees greater flexibility in how, when and where they get their work done.

There is no way to say definitively whether more or fewer companies are offering Summer Friday options today than before Covid-19 hit. But Caitlin Duffy, senior director of Gartner’s HR practice, said she wouldn’t be surprised if Summer Fridays become less of a featured benefit from employers because flexible work has become so much more prevalent.

Duffy noted, for instance, that she’s seen increased interest among employers in learning about four-day work weeks, noting that various experiments have shown improvements in employee performance and engagement. “Our clients are seeing all these benefits coming out of trials that intrigue them,” she said.

Indeed, a number of benefits that summer hours offer — such as more time to recharge and more flexibility to make family plans — may be available through other flexible options. The same 2023 Gartner survey found that 31% of US employees said they enjoy flexible work hours while 18% said they had the option of working four and a half days a week year-round and 10% said they have a four-day workweek.

Still, Summer Fridays are likely to remain an attractive perk as part of an overall paid time off and work flexibility package, especially to those whose companies have insisted employees come into the office five days a week, said Rich Fuerstenberg, senior partner in Mercer’s Health Practice.

If you’re working for an employer that doesn’t offer Summer Fridays, or you just generally feel that you don’t have all the flexibility you would like, at the very least take all the vacation days you’ve accrued.

Too few US workers do. Last year, The Pew Research Center found that 46% of US workers did not take all the paid time off that their employer allowed.

And when you don’t take your days, you’re cheating yourself of the physical rest and mental break you know you need — and which studies suggest can make you a better employee in the long run.

So, for your own sake (and, of course, that of your company), take the time off you’ve earned. And have a very good weekend.

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