A real-estate billionaire claims that Fridays are permanently unproductive for offices, and remote work expert Nick Bloom agrees, suggesting a new three-part work week.

A real-estate billionaire claims that Fridays are permanently unproductive for offices, and remote work expert Nick Bloom agrees, suggesting a new three-part work week.

The Rise of WFH Fridays: A New Trend in Remote Work

Remote Work

Nowadays, it’s no longer uncommon to find offices completely empty on Fridays. What was once a day filled with hustle and bustle has become the designated WFH (work from home) day for many professionals. This shift in work culture has been captured by Steven Roth, a seasoned economist, who predicted the rise of WFH Fridays years ago. And it seems he’s been proven right, according to Nick Bloom, a renowned Stanford economics professor and head of WFH Research.

“Friday has become the day to #wfh,” Bloom tweeted, acknowledging that Roth’s prediction has indeed come true. As a leading expert in remote work data, Bloom finds it fascinating that even he was taken aback by this trend. In an email to ANBLE, he writes, “I thought this would be more stable, but I guess… Friday [is] increasingly winning out in the WFH stakes.” Bloom attributes this shift to the growing push for coordinated hybrid work models, where companies encourage employees to come into the office on specific days.

For many, the appeal of in-office work lies in the ability to socialize and collaborate with colleagues. Consequently, coordinating one’s WFH days with teammates has become the norm. Bloom reiterates this consensus, stating that “coordinating to be home on Friday” is a key aspect of the organized hybrid work arrangement, which is now considered the gold standard.

Bloom’s research has led him to coin a new term: the “3-part week.” It comprises the weekdays from Monday to Thursday, the weekend with closed offices, and the now significant standalone day: Friday. With this new framework, it becomes clear just how much weight WFH Fridays carry in the current work landscape.

While Monday to Thursday may see a mix of office and remote work, Fridays appear to be consistently left open for remote work. This trend is reinforced by several major corporations who have implemented back-to-work mandates with significant in-office requirements. Although weekends are unlikely to see cubicles populated once again, WFH Fridays hold their ground.

For instance, Amazon enforced a three-day minimum for in-person work earlier this year. However, the policy faced some challenges as employees received disciplinary emails despite adhering to the new rules. Similarly, Google has implemented a mandatory three-day office policy, considering remote work on a full-time basis only in exceptional circumstances. Salesforce has even taken it a step further with certain teams required to be in the office for four days a week. Given this context, it wouldn’t be surprising if Fridays were designated as the sole WFH day for Salesforce employees.

Bloom’s research also reveals a discrepancy between employers and employees when it comes to the number of office days. According to WFH Research, there is roughly half a workday’s difference between the number of days workers desire to be in the office and what their bosses expect or require. This disconnect is further emphasized by a report from real estate consulting firm JLL, which states that 1.5 million workers have been mandated to return to the office for at least a few days per week, and another million will likely face the same requirement in the latter half of this year.

Although some companies are formalizing their remote work policies and specifying when employees can work from home, remote work remains prevalent. According to June research from McKinsey, an estimated 58% of workers—equivalent to 92 million people in the entire US workforce—have the ability to work remotely on some days. Consequently, it’s almost expected that at least one of those days will be a Friday.

In conclusion, the rise of WFH Fridays is a reflection of the evolving work culture. As remote work becomes increasingly common and hybrid models gain traction, the coordination of in-office days among teams has become crucial. And while Fridays have emerged as the favored day for remote work, Monday to Thursday will continue to be a mix of both in-person and remote work. As companies navigate the complexities of return-to-work mandates, it’s evident that WFH Fridays are here to stay.