From government employees who stretch their flextime into three-day weekends to private-sector businesses that adopt summer hours because they realize nothing is getting done on Friday afternoons anyway, a growing number of Washington area residents are enjoying a workweek that ends on Thursday evening or midday Friday…

In an informal survey of personnel directors at Fortune 1000 companies conducted for The Washington Post by the Corporate Executive Board in Rosslyn, nearly half said their business has instituted a compressed workweek during the summer or is considering doing so, often by allowing workers to put in longer hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for taking off all or part of Friday.

“We see companies moving in the direction of giving employees flexibility over when they work,” said Brian Kropp, managing director of the board’s Corporate Leadership Council, which advises businesses on management and strategy. “Taking every other Friday off is much more effective than ice cream socials or company picnics. The gift of time is the most precious gift you can give an employee, and it pays off in employee engagement.”