Mar 30, 2024 - Economy

Weekend starts early: Average worker now logs off at 4 p.m. on Fridays

Average workday signoff times
Data: ActivTrak; Chart: Axios Visuals

Pandemic-era conversations about four-day workweeks have quieted down, but U.S. workers are logging off earlier and earlier on Fridays.

Why it matters: COVID's disruptions to the way we work — like lighter Fridays when working remotely — have staying power.

Zoom in: Quitting time has been shifting earlier throughout the week, and it's especially early on Friday, according to an analysis of sign-off times from some 75,000 workers at 816 companies by the workplace analytics firm ActivTrak.

  • Friday sign-off times have moved up from around 5 p.m. at the start of 2021 to around 4 p.m. now.
  • Monday-Thursday sign-offs have also shifted earlier, to around 5 p.m. on average, possibly because more workers are going into offices and commuting home rather than letting remote work bleed into the evening, The Wall Street Journal's Vanessa Fuhrmans notes.

Zoom out: Productivity dips on Fridays — especially in the afternoon — whether workers are in offices or at home, researchers at Texas A&M found.

  • Companies have experimented with different approaches to get the most out of Fridays, including banning meetings or letting workers take half days and betting that they'll be more focused in the mornings with that perk.
  • Almost all companies that have called workers back to offices in the last couple of years have settled on hybrid work, and Fridays are typically the quietest office days.
  • Remote workers also aren't waiting until 5 p.m. on Friday to take off for weekend trips, which now often span three or four days rather than two, Axios' Emily Peck reports.

The bottom line: Over time, the last day of the workweek has transformed from casual Friday to "a staging ground for the weekend," Fuhrmans writes.

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