The advantages of a four-and-a-half-day working week.
We all tend to slip into slack mode on a Friday. Most managers appreciate this, and may let employees go home early or put off a new task until Monday. So, if Friday afternoons are going to be unproductive, why have workers in at all? By starting, say, an hour earlier on other days, Friday afternoon can be dispensed with. Is this a workable great idea or does it simply mean an unproductive Friday morning too?
Hasbro UK certainly sees such a change in working patterns as a good thing. Over the summer, from Monday to Thursday its staff start work 15 minutes earlier and finish half an hour later. On a Friday, they leave the office at 12.30. MD Brian Ellis says, 'It's a major staff benefit.
We don't cut hours - staff simply work longer on other days and do more on a Friday morning. It gives them nice, long weekends.' Angela Baron at the Institute of Personnel and Development also favours the move as a positive one. 'It is particularly easy to implement in manufacturing where people work shifts,' she points out.
Bluebird Toys takes a somewhat more conservative approach: on Friday, employees knock off an hour early at four o'clock. Explains personnel manager Linda Brown, 'Staff voted for a particular working pattern, with a longer lunch hour and an early finish to avoid the rush hour.' Productivity, she believes, is actually increased on Friday afternoon with employees eager to finish things before the weekend.
At pharmaceutical firm Searle in Northumberland, employees head home at 1.15. 'We've been doing it for a long time - it's the norm in this region,' says John Ross, human resources director. When the company switched over to longer weekdays and a short Friday, it also streamlined staff breaks, allowing for greater uninterrupted periods of work. On Fridays by contrast, 'People can catch up and tie up loose ends. No one would want to go back to working Friday afternoons.'
The consensus (at least among those who practise it) seems to be a big thumbs-up for the short Friday. But for those who already work extended hours during the week and a full Friday afternoon, a camp bed in the office may be the cost of a longer weekend.