White collar workers are more likely to hear silence than the phrase “TGIF!” in the office every Friday.
Leisurely lunches and company happy hours used to define the end of the week, but now it’s becoming the day where workers are opting to stay at home. Before the pandemic, it wasn’t all that uncommon for workers to feel the urge to leave the office early on Fridays, especially in places like New York City where employers formalized the practice in the summertime. But now, office occupancy levels on Fridays have plummeted as employees avoid going to the office altogether.
A small but growing number of companies are abandoning all hope that people will come to work on the last day of the workweek. The crowdfunding site Kickstarter and the online secondhand shop ThredUp, are switching to a four-day workweek that runs from Monday to Thursday. The other strategy that organizations are deploying is to incentivize their employees to come back on Friday. Ironically, these incentives involve having employees eschew their work duties altogether. Last summer, executives at Bolt, a San Francisco-based checkout technology company, began experimenting with no-work Fridays and quickly discovered that doing so resulted in a huge boost of productivity from their employees. Some companies are jumping on this trend, turning the office into a carnival every Friday with things like taco trucks, wine carts, costume contests, and karaoke sing-offs.
But the lack of Friday foot traffic is having a bigger impact than just the office. Nearby parking garages, coffee shops, and restaurants all have to adjust their staffing and hours to contend with the drop in office occupancy levels. Employers have a choice in how they adjust their operations to suit the overall unwillingness to come to work on a Friday, but whichever way they choose, it will ultimately have a macro-effect on the surrounding real estate.