My agency just sent out the annual summer Friday schedule. But who are they kidding? I still barely keep up with what I'm working on Monday through Thursday. And the economy is still pretty bad. I'm afraid not to be seen at my desk working. Are summer Fridays still a part of the advertising business? Should I be worried if I'm actually taking them?
Amy says: Summer Fridays are a lovely tradition, likely started in the "Mad Men" days, just like the 4:30 pm beer trolley. Summer weekends are for traveling to the beach and Friday afternoon is the best time to leave to beat the traffic. Amazingly, summer Fridays are still around, though the beer trolley is not.
As an agency employee, part of your compensation package includes time off like holidays and vacation time. Summer Fridays do fall into this bucket, although this time off tends to be a bit more controversial. Agency management allows this privilege as long as client needs are met. And teams have to make sure that there is at least some coverage when folks are absent. So my advice is, take it when you can, but don't count on it. There is nothing more disappointing to be walking out the door to the train station only to see a client email that requires immediate attention.
Instead, use Fridays as way to get ahead. Catch up on email. Spend some time with key vendors and get to know them. Do some research and track down some articles to share with your clients and management to show them how smart and proactive you are. Overall, not much business is going to get done on a Friday in the summer -- but that doesn't mean you can't be taking care of business.
Jason, what do sellers do about summer Fridays? I mean it's hard enough to reach an agency buyer, so do they even try?
Jason says: As I sit here, my legs sticking to the seat, my mango smoothie soaking my desk with condensation, I realize that, yes, the "unofficial summer" is here. The days are longer, but the mood is brighter and our calendars are packed with personal and professional events. Thus, the inevitable creeping in of summer Fridays. (Did I mention I am sitting on my yacht?) At some companies, it is official policy -- complete with company wide e-mail from the head of HR--to depart on Fridays at noon or 1 or 3 p.m. Other companies do it unofficially - that is, people go to lunch and simply don't return. Other people saunter out quietly in the afternoon, wearing sandals and carrying their weekend "briefcase," which holds only the NJTransit train schedule and sunblock. Either way, there is definitely a drop in activity on summer Fridays in our business.
So what should you be doing on Friday? While I currently don't do summer hours, I also don't see many new business calls or e-mails going out from the sales side on a summer Friday. There are the possible lunch meetings for current business, but there are rarely external meetings after lunch. My friend Nick Johnson, senior vice president of NBCU digital media, says, "We offer our team some flexibility during the summer but still expect, of course, that the team stays focused on business and be accessible to their clients. Like any other time, we ensure that we have a strong coverage model." He also made the point that, "between BlackBerries and cell phones, my team is always available to some extent anyway."
So, for all the sellers out there, I say, keep Fridays productive by using it as a catch-up day: write your sales reports, ensure your sales crm tool is clean, do your expense reports, check on current campaigns, etc. There should be plenty of time for ongoing prospecting for new business. Then, unplug for a few hours and work on some thoughtful ideas for clients (no, you cannot do this effectively from a bar). Focus on the big picture and clear your head. Not only will this make for a great weekend, but you will be charged-up and ready for the week come Monday.