You’ve seen them sipping Sancerre at sidewalk cafés in the middle of a summer Friday. Someone’s occupying the seats in movie theaters, lolling through SoHo in search of the perfect weekend outfit, sunning themselves on the High Line, or simply waiting in line at the DMV. But you’re just on your lunch hour. Who are they, and why aren’t they rushing back to the office like you are? They’re the Summer Friday set.
Casual Fridays, the outdated tradition that allowed employees to wear jeans (gasp!) or other less formal attire to the office on Fridays during warmer months, have been replaced with partial or complete days off. An informal survey of my colleagues and acquaintances showed that some workplaces allow employees to work four hours on Fridays, and then leave, by say, 11am, if they get in at 7. Others offer floating holidays; some cancel work altogether after lunch.
There’s much to be said for the four-day workweek -- a recent study shows workers’ increase in productivity, creativity, and overall performance when they get three-day weekends. And, like most things in NYC, Summer Fridays are another way to separate the haves from the have-nots. For those who work hourly jobs, like in the service industry, or anyone whose presence is absolutely essential to their workplace, like at breaking news outlets or hospital, a Summer Friday can feel distant, if not entitled and classist.
Whether your employer sanctions a little end of the week freedom, or you have to seize it yourself, the expectation that you’re always working, never 100% off, may linger as you head to the bar at 2pm on a Friday. So at least once this season, fake an illness if necessary, turn on that OOO email, and enjoy what you can of this summer’s Fridays in NYC.