Friday Afternoons: The Least Productive Office Hours, Study Reveals
Office workers often find themselves losing steam as the work week progresses, particularly in the afternoons and on Fridays. A recent study conducted at Texas A&M University has provided empirical evidence to substantiate this widely accepted belief. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE and was orchestrated by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Health Behavior.
The research team, led by Drs. Taehyun Roh and Nishat Tasnim Hasan, scrutinized the computer usage patterns of 789 office-based employees at a prominent energy company in Texas. The data was collected over a span of two years, from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018.
Traditionally, studies on worker productivity have relied on self-reported data or supervisory evaluations which are often subjective. Some even use wearable technology which can be invasive. In contrast, this study used computer usage metrics such as typing speed, typing errors, and mouse activity to gather non-invasive and objective data on work patterns.
The team discovered that computer use escalated during the week, reaching a peak on Thursday, before dropping significantly on Friday. Employees exhibited more mouse movement, clicks and scrolls from Monday through Thursday, with a marked decrease in these activities on Friday. Additionally, there was a notable drop in computer use every afternoon, particularly on Friday afternoons.
Dr. Roh observed that employees were less active in the afternoons and made more typing errors, especially on Fridays. This finding is consistent with other studies which have shown a steady increase in task completion from Monday through Wednesday, followed by a decrease on Thursday and Friday.
The implications of this study are significant for employers who are keen to optimize productivity in the workplace. One potential solution could be to consider flexible work arrangements such as a four-day work week or a hybrid work model. As of May 2023, approximately 60% of full-time paid workers in the United States worked entirely on-site, while the rest worked remotely or had a hybrid arrangement involving both remote and on-site work.
Flexible work arrangements can alleviate stress associated with commuting and workplace politics, leading to increased job satisfaction. Employees also benefit from more time with their families, reducing work-family conflicts. Moreover, they have more time for leisure activities and exercise which can improve physical and mental health.
An added advantage of flexible work arrangements is the potential for cost savings through reduced electricity use and a smaller carbon footprint. As more people opt for electric height adjustable standing desks or the best sit stand desk for their home office setup, there is potential for improved health benefits from an electric stand up desk.
The findings of this study offer valuable insights for business leaders seeking to enhance work performance and promote workplace sustainability. By understanding how productivity fluctuates throughout the week and day, employers can make informed decisions about work schedules and office environments. For instance, knowing how to choose the best standing desk could contribute to improved productivity and health in the office.
In conclusion, it’s clear that productivity among office workers tends to dip in the afternoons and on Fridays. By adopting flexible work arrangements and considering ergonomics such as standing desks or TV lifts for better posture, employers can create a healthier and more productive work environment.