I randomly stumbled on this blog post (by the fabulous Josie Leavitt) in which she kind of bemoans the fact that the publishing industry has summer Fridays. Later, in the comments, she clarifies that she's not saying the industry doesn't deserve to take them and that she appreciates how hard people work, but it makes her life more difficult when she can't reach people. "Summer Fridays," for people who have no idea what I'm talking about, basically just means that there's an industry standard (at least with the bigger houses/companies/agencies) that we work half days on Fridays (leaving at 1 PM or so), or, conversely, you get every other Friday off. I was on the former schedule at my old job and I'm on the latter at my present, and I have to say, I love both options equally. In case you think this is some supremely awesome deal where we don't work and still get paid for the time--like free vacation--we actually make up the time on the other weekdays. Monday-Thursday, we're here from at least 8:45-5:30 or 9:00-5:45, and usually much later than that.
I think it's important to point out that it's not publishing specific, and that many industries also take them. Also, especially in the every-other-Friday-off situation, there's always one person from the team that's there for the full day. (At my former Place of Employment, where we took half days, there was always a higher-up or two there for the full work day to respond to queries.)
I've been trying to research why/how the Summer Friday tradition started. I'm assuming it might have something to do with how disgusting the weather is here in the city in July/August, and I'm sure many of the big buildings didn't have central A/C a few decades ago. I've also heard it's just because, in the past, the workload was much lighter in the summertime (this tends to be true, unless you're crashing projects onto a list or you have a huge conference to plan).
In any case, let me tell you friends: this is one of those rare perks in this biz, along with the occasional free book. It keeps us happy and sane, and almost makes up for the fact that I get paid so little to live in a city where a $123,000 salary buys you the same lifestyle as a $50,000 salary in Houston. Having Summer Fridays also alleviates some of the stress of only having X amount of personal and vacation days when you're first starting out. My V-Day situation is much better, but when I started working at my Former Place of Employment, I couldn't take any time off between August and December, otherwise I wouldn't have had enough days to go home for Christmas.
Anyway, I'm pretty sure that if they took Summer Fridays away, people would revolt, regardless of how high up they are in the corporate food chain. I also want to point out that just because we have Summer Fridays, it doesn't mean people actually take advantage of them. Last year, I would stay much later than 1 PM to take advantage of the quiet office, and this year--this week, actually, I'm not taking tomorrow off even though it's my turn. Too much work to be done!