More companies are introducing so-called Focus Fridays, to keep the final day of the week efficient and unburdened by meetings.
The days are meant for employees to tend to more personal tasks with no internal meetings, but allow companies to still be available to clients and stay open during regular business hours.
Fridays are a tricky workday for many with the weekend just hours away and limited bandwidth to start new tasks and engage in meetings after a full week of working. They’ve consistently been the lowest day for office attendance this year, according to data from Kastle Systems, a security company that tracks badge swipes into offices.
Some companies have turned to summer Fridays, to also help stem burnout and offer employees better work-life balance. The problem with summer Fridays is that they’re often unenforced, and employees can’t always count on being able to shut their laptops or head out right at 2 p.m.
ZipRecruiter’s vp of people, Marissa Morrison, said she’s seen more companies implementing focus Fridays recently. “There’s more flexibility on those days to get the things done that you need to get done, not be on back-to-back meetings, and do that deep work,” Morrison said.
While employees are still expected to be available, there’s very little internal collaboration expected, and more room for them to tend to personal obligations and get caught up on whatever they didn’t get to during the week.
“Maybe it’s a doctor’s appointment or going to the DMV at lunch,” she said.
Slack implemented a pilot program of focus Fridays for its employees during the pandemic when employees reported being bogged down by too many meetings, and has fully implemented it since. “The idea is that you should feel comfortable taking a step away from your computer,” said Christina Janzer, Slack’s svp of research and analytics.
On those days all internal meetings are canceled and staff are encouraged to turn off their slack notifications so they can work without disruptions. Focus Fridays have been particularly beneficial for managers, the workplace communications platform found.
Slack conducted an internal survey in 2021 in which managers were the most likely cohort to say they didn’t have enough time in their schedule to focus on completing their work, and almost half of them said they spent too much time in meetings.
The pandemic and remote work also brought more recognition to the amount of work-related communications people send and receive that can feel overwhelming. Many are burdened with digital debt, where the constant need to coordinate and communicate at work is taking time away from deep thinking, creating and actually working.
“Employees just say how incredible this program is because it allows them to catch up and allows them to breathe and allows them to do whatever it is that they need to do to do their job,” Janzer said.
It’s also a great time to set yourself up for the next week.
On focus Fridays, Janzer sets her Slack to ‘do not disturb’ and changes her status to show others she has her head down doing focused work. She often prewrites emails to send out Monday so as to not interrupt internal recipients finishing up their current week’s work.
Ultimately, 84% of Slack employees said they find focus Fridays beneficial, according to an internal survey.