Beat the Heat: 3 Ways to Get Your Office Ready for Summer

Summertime presents unique workplace challenges. Many employers are juggling vacations, managing employees with out-of-school kids, and reinforcing dress code policies in triple-digit weather. So how can you improve your summer office policies? If you prepare well, your office policies can turn summer into one of the best times of the year for employees. It’s a period to refresh and recharge, redefine work-life balance, and enjoy the sunshine. When executed poorly, summer policies can be as pesky as mosquitoes at a BBQ.

Are your workplace policies ready for summer?

Managing Vacation Requests

Companies field increasing numbers of requests for time off during the summer holidays. If not managed properly, vacation requests can cause delays, internal conflicts on overburdened teams, and resentment amongst team members.

And you want your employees to take vacations! We all need time away from daily stresses so that we can return to the office centered, re-energized, and motivated.

Here are some ways you can manage summer vacation requests effectively:
• Ask employees to submit summer schedules early and notify supervisors in advance to avoid conflicts.
• Stagger vacations to ensure adequate coverage, being mindful of perceived fairness across your team.
• Keep a pool of part-time employees or employ temp workers to ensure coverage and a balanced workload.
• If there are crucial work periods that fall during the summer, balance blackout periods with holiday pay.

Summer Hours

A favorite perk in many offices is Summer Fridays. Typically, a company will close the office around noon on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, giving employees the time and flexibility to enjoy longer summer weekends. Depending on the business, productivity may not be as high on Friday afternoons. Preemptively closing shop lets employees truly enjoy their time off.

Summer Fridays can also help balance out some of those vacation requests. It signals to employees that the company cares about their work-life balance, even when it might be difficult to grant them time off for a longer vacation.

It can be rough transitioning back to full workweeks in September, but the benefits continue all year round. Summer Fridays are a great recruiting tool and can help with employee retention.

Flextime is another great policy to consider as the days get longer. Akin to Summer Fridays, flextime is especially great for engaging and retaining working parents with children on summer vacation.

Summer flex hours typically mean that as long as an employee covers their schedule, they can take time off each week and not be charged against their wages, or paid time off. Generally, flexible summer hours occur from May to August each year.

At many companies, employees can either make an individual request for temporary summer flex hours, or management may have a company-wide or departmental policy for employees regarding summer flex hours. Once in place, it’s important to check in with individuals using the policy, and the larger team, to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Summer Wardrobe Policies

With hotter temps, fabrics become sheerer, hems rise, and there’s a lot more temptation to stretch the liberties of a dress code. Some offices will implement a summer dress code, relaxing the formality of the normal dress code and spelling out guidelines to help employees figure out what to wear.

It’s okay to shell out basic advice, but it’s also important for managers to set high standards and gently correct employees who are misinterpreting “sandal” or “sleeveless shirt.”

One great take on dress codes comes from GM, where they’ve condensed their dress code to two simple words: dress appropriately. The architect of that policy, CEO Mary Barra explained, “What I realized is that you really need to make sure your managers are empowered—because if they cannot handle ‘dress appropriately,’ what other decisions can they handle? And I realized that often, if you have a lot of overly prescriptive policies and procedures, people will live down to them.”

Summer is already here — now is the time to review your office policies and make clear, defined guidelines for managing vacation requests, summer hours, and dress code. By improving your summertime office policies, you’ll have happier employees and a more productive summer both inside and outside the office.

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