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Is Thursday the new Friday?

With more people than ever choosing to work from home on Fridays amid the rising popularity of nine-day fortnights, is Thursday becoming the new Friday? These lawyers weigh in. 

user iconLauren Croft 15 September 2022 Big Law
Is Thursday the new Friday?
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In a recent poll conducted by Lawyers Weekly, 59 per cent of lawyers said that Friday was their preferred day to work from home during the week.

Similarly, in the UK, Friday has been revealed to be the most popular day to work from home, as reported by the BBC.

This trend is “absolutely” a strong trend within the Australian legal industry, Julip founder and beaton partner Kim Wiegand told Lawyers Weekly.


“After generations of lawyers almost chained to their desks five (or more) days a week, I am not surprised that as an industry, lawyers are grabbing flexibility with both hands,” she said.

“I am not at all surprised that Friday is the most popular WFH day. It has long been the wind down and casual day of the working week with many firms offering casual-dress Friday’s and team lunches. It makes sense as it leads straight into the weekend and offers greater flexibility now that borders are open for travel, or taking time out with family and friends locally without the need to be up and in the office the next day.” 

Similarly, Bowd chief executive Fionn Bowd said that working from home on Friday is not a surprising trend at all post-pandemic. In fact, she’s been working from home since the early 2000s.

“I worked at a leading organisation for flexibility (Telstra) in the early 2000’s and we were allowed to work a day at home. I always picked Friday because while I was on conference calls or my lunch break, I could also get through all my washing, do a tidy up, and cook up a hearty meal or two. It meant by the end of the day, all my weekend chores were done and I had this incredible feeling of lightness and happiness going into the Friday afternoon. I cannot tell you what joy it brought me.  

“Friday makes more sense than Monday as it’s a more stressful day, while others are kicking off their work week and getting organised for the week ahead, sending you emails about things you need to do,” she said. 

“There’s been a flow on effect to lawyers as the clients (corporate commercial clients) themselves prefer to work from home on a Friday, which makes it more possible for in house counsel, and in turn their service providers, law firm lawyers, to work from home on a Friday as hardly anyone wants to see you in person.”  

Ms Wiegand also prefers Friday to work on “deep projects without meetings or office distractions” as well as to pick up her children from school and spend more time with family.

“In my 20’s and before children, I absolutely was at Friday night work drinks each week. Values have changed and I see that home or family time is more greatly cherished since COVID,” she added.

I think this will stay the most common scenario. Those with children are enjoying the time to connect with family and younger lawyers are no less driven, but perhaps more balanced. We should celebrate this!”

In addition, Fridays are likely to turn into an earlier finish or half day in a number of different industries, according to Ms Bowd — who said that moving forward, working hours will depend on individual needs and wants.

“We should be moving towards a four-day working week. Technology was supposed to free us, and it hasn’t. We just work around the clock, at all hours of the day. Many people, particularly lawyers, have easily worked 40 hours by the end of Thursday. We need to work out how to rebalance things and a four-day week is one way.

“For what it’s worth, I accept that law firms will still need some kind of skeleton staff on Fridays, and they probably should have the same on the weekend, and run more like a hospital with people on call during those times. That way, everyone else gets to have a genuine (long) weekend, and matters are still covered for clients. Personally, I’d happily trade a weekend a month in order to have three weekends where I could genuinely relax,” she explained.

“I also think we continue to ignore the mental health impacts of overwork, and undervalue the importance of downtime for creative problem solving. I think whether employers agree to it or not, we’re going to see more of this kind of unofficial unionism, where workers start to individually require changes to their working hours and over time it changes how everyone works.”

A shorter working week is also a trend that is on the rise within the profession, with Shine Lawyers and Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers introducing a nine-day fortnight and four-day week option, respectively. Moreover, a four-day working week has also been said to benefit the climate.

However, in terms of Thursday being the new Friday, Ms Bowd said it was too early to tell.

“Every single professional organisation is struggling with this issue at a macro level — Fridays are the least of their worries. No one knows how to make flexible work really work for the organisation and its culture, and Thursdays will only be the new Friday if most or all people work in the office on Thursday,” she said.

“That is true in some places but not others. We have a while to go before there are many clear trends.”

If anything, Friday being the most popular day to work from home will impact the “strong drinking culture” in the legal industry, Ms Wiegand said.

“I have worked in law firms across Australia and the UK for over 20 years and Friday has always been the standard for company drinks and often career-limiting shenanigans,” she said.

“As with any changes to industry culture, there will be nay-sayers and those who think less of WFH and flexibility. I say this is a fabulous change to our industry, having struggled with mental and physical burn-out for years. Leaders should be making a choice to endorse and encourage balance. If that is Friday as WFH, then sobeit. If there are concerns about productivity, luckily the legal industry has the metrics and ability to monitor and manage WFH effectiveness. If it means setting expectations of employees when working from home, then do so. But flexibility is here to stay. Leaders will need to adapt to that and welcome the new normal.”

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