OPINION - Let's start working from the office on Fridays again — but make it more fun

 (Austin Distel / Unsplash)
(Austin Distel / Unsplash)

Oh, Friday. The wind-down before the weekend. Fridays have been a productivity issue since before Covid. Who hasn’t said “sorry to be speaking to you about this so late on a Friday”, as Fridays are a special case.

I once joked that we should do a themed Friday to create a good atmosphere in the office, this is when Heavy Metal Fridays were born. Forced fun the rest of the week never worked, but on a Friday the mood was different, people were more likely to let their mullets down.

In the old days, on Friday there might be a drink after work or a longer lunch break. We are missing out on the collective excitement for the weekend, the more positive interactions with our colleagues, and finding out a little about their lives. These things help build a positive company culture, true friendships and therefore an enjoyable work environment.

There is a reluctance to get people back together five days a week

Yet there is a reluctance to get people back together five days a week, despite claims that in-person collaborative working is the key to company success.

I did my first Friday in the office for four years last week. The company gave plenty of notice that we were required to come in, and lunch was provided. The station car park was empty, my train was very quiet, there were a limited number of toilets available in the building, which felt like signs I was doing something I shouldn’t. However, by the end of the day I felt differently — it had been a productive day. There had been meaningful conversations, new ideas shared.

If we are to encourage employees back to the office, which means spending money on travel, time away from family and in some cases long commutes, we need to offer something in return. Providing lunch, different start times and adjustments for childcare are all great and go a long way to help. Addressing those very practical issues seems to be the go-to approach but what about creating an enjoyable and productive work environment, playing on the human need to not miss out?

So this Friday, don a wig and let your hair down, put on some Metallica and let’s revive Heavy Metal Fridays, in the office, it makes good business sense.

Emily Hawkins-Longley is head of people at Hearst Media