How to choose the best days to work from home
HYBRID WORK may be the future, but that begs the question of how it is actually organized. Do companies give their employees the choice of which days they come to the office and what days they are at home? And what about the working hours? Clearly, when employees have a choice, they need a strategy to maximize their visibility and minimize stress. Hence, this columnist has a few tips on which days to choose to work from home.
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Monday: Too obvious. You might as well say, “I’ve been drinking all weekend and I’m too hungover to get in.” In the 18th and early 19th centuries, when Saturdays were paid, being absent on the first official day of the work week was so common that it was referred to as âHoly Mondayâ because it felt almost like a second Sabbath.
From a work point of view, Monday is usually a day on which some kind of team meeting takes place and the priorities for the rest of the week are set. It seems best to go to the office that day and postpone time for individual work until later in the week. Showing your enthusiasm for the boss by showing up on the first day of the week is probably also a good idea.
Tuesday: Some people don’t like the pattern that comes with spending Tuesday at home because it splits the work week into two unequal parts. Not Bartleby, who was working from home the day before the pandemic started completing the column (removing the typos, putting aside the non-sequences, and polishing the puns). Still, working from home on Tuesday seems to not only break the week, but also to be a day few others could choose. And then there’s nothing more satisfying than looking out the window and watching everyone else on their way to work while sitting in slippers and sipping coffee.
Wednesday: Working remotely that day would please Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s detective who loved symmetry and order. Two days of work in the office, one day at home, two more days in the office and then a two-day weekend. It doesn’t match The economist‘s schedule (Wednesday is the deadline). It is still a good choice. Ignore the “Wednesdays child is full of woe” propaganda. Businesses will likely be happy to leave this day to the employees, as Mondays and Fridays will be the most popular options.
Thursday: Although the work week is split similarly, it appears to be a less satisfactory remote work day than Tuesday. That’s because after avoiding the commute on Thursday, you’ll have to go through the process again on a Friday. There is quite a bit to be said for this option, however, as you can start thinking about the weekend on Wednesday evening.
Friday: As on Monday, this is too suspicious a choice. Coworkers will knowingly smile and use their fingers as quotation marks when they say you work from home on Fridays. The managers will call you at different times of the day to look for any tell-tale signs of the beach or golf course.
There is no reason to risk this management suspicion. Lazy people have long since learned that Fridays are more relaxed in the office; Colleagues can leave for long lunches (or early drinks) and no one will ask too many questions unless you are at your desk after 3:00 p.m. So if you really want to call it a day, pop in on a Friday and sneak into your free time on another day. And if you’re a hardworking employee who wants to maintain a reputation for hard work, don’t choose Friday for remote work.
Of course, many companies allow two days of remote work, which leads to another ten possible combinations. To avoid suspicion, do not select Monday / Friday or Thursday / Friday as the remote control combination. Tuesday and Thursday can be a good choice as you will be in the office (and therefore visible) every other day.
And then there is the option of flexible working hours. Early risers can start the day at 8:00 a.m., end at 4:00 p.m., and have the rest of the day to themselves. But in many companies the boss is at the crack of dawn, so that the early bird can have landed with all the work. Start at noon and end at 8:00 p.m. and you may find that no one is around after 6:00 p.m. and it’s safe to have dinner and watch Netflix. The rules change and with them the potential to use them. To be successful in the age of remote work, employees need the cunning of Machiavelli and the tactical brilliance of Napoleon.
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This article appeared in the business section of the print edition under the heading “Timing is Everything”