Go PLAY Days (The Case for Summer Hours & Productivity)

August 14, 2023

by Kristi Herold

I’ve always been a sponge for other people’s wisdom and tales of adventure.

Picture this: Over two decades ago, back when JAM was just a baby, I stumbled upon a company that provided “Summer Hours.” They actually let their employees bolt out of the office at lunchtime on Fridays during the summer months. Since Canadian summers are shorter than a squirrel’s attention span at a nut convention, being able to extend the weekend or hit the road and escape the city chaos was (is) a huge perk!

As JAM grew and I started hiring staff, I realized I had the power to make dreams come true (work-related dreams, at least). Taking a cue from that legendary workplace I’d heard tales of years ago, we came up with our very own version of summer hours. We dubbed them “Go PLAY Days.”

Now with JAM operating in 15 cities and counting, we encourage our team to take as many “Go PLAY Days” as possible. Starting with the long weekend in May up to the last hurrah on Labour Day, the team gets a little extra time to soak up the summer sun.

3 ways Go PLAY Days actually benefits productivity:

1. It opens the door to inspired thinking.

According to Psychology Today, CEOs rank creativity as the #1 most important trait for all incoming employees. A non-stop grind in a never-changing routine can cause ruts in your team’s workflow. It makes it hard for people to think outside the box. When we allow the team time to relax outside of work, they return with changed focus and perspective.

2. Play is the antidote to burnout and helps boost morale.

Breaks have a greater impact on our success and happiness (versus working around the clock) says Behaviour Scientist John Levy. Fun recharges the brain battery. It offers a chance to decompress and lets your team come back feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

3. You empower your employees to chase the vision.

By giving our employees the flexibility and freedom to set their own schedule, we’re actually creating a culture built on trust. Trust leads to:

  • Open communication
  • Enhanced collaboration
  • Strengthened accountability
  • A higher commitment to delivering high-quality work

In building in opportunities for your team to kick back and enjoy life outside the office, you’re not just checking the “employee satisfaction” box. Your launching an actual employee work-life balance into your workplace culture. And when you’re team feels breezy, your productivity goes up!

Here’s how Go PLAY Days work:

  • Teammates check in with their Team Lead one week in advance and get the a-OK to use a “Go Play Day.”
  • Team leaders ensure work will still be covered in the office for the coming Friday afternoon and provide the confirmation accordingly.
  • Teammates using “Go Play Days” are expected to plan ahead and make sure their work is completed and Get Sh*t Done (one of JAM’s core values).
  • Teams our empowered to manage themselves and to ensure our customers receive service, and our leagues and corporate events run as planned.
  • Friday lunchtime, teammates taking “Go Play Days”, take off to enjoy an extended summer weekend!

For teammates who stick around Friday afternoons making sure operations are still running, be sure to reward them with a little playtime like virtual Trivia or Escape Room. Or really earn that office hero status and schedule some company play time outdoors like a lunch-time JAMazing Race or Field Day at a nearby park.

Play and work-life balance isn’t a luxury. It’s the secret sauce to creating a happy, productive and ridiculously cool workplace balance. It motivates and sets your teams up for success to crush their goals.

Kristi Herold is an author and speaker and is the Founder & CEO of JAM, one of the world’s largest adult recreational sports league providers. She helps people connect through play, helps companies unlock profit through play, and her vision is to get 1 million people playing annually.

In addition to her role at JAM, Kristi authored It Pays to PLAY – How Play Improves Business Culture, (book summary available here) she consults with companies on creating thriving workplace cultures and is a sought-after keynote speaker, delivering important messages about the power of PLAY. She has been featured in Forbes and Fast Company, was named to Canada’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women” list, and was a Top 3 finalist in the Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards.