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What is the Best In-Office Day? Or is There One?

July 28, 2021

By Mary E. Corrado, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

I read a lot and based on what I’ve read there is really no perfect day to consider an in-office day for all. A recent article on Wired says there are MTFers who prefer to go to the office Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  Another group is called WTFers – they prefer Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. And then yet another group, the MTWers, perefer Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  I think it’s safe to say there is no real consensus on which days are ideal for the office.

A recent survey on LinkedIn found that nearly half of employees surveyed are expected to come in at least one or two days a week, and more than a third are expected in the office for three or four days.  That same survey found that Monday and Tuesday are likely to be the busiest days in physical workplaces.

Managers often try to identify office days based on productivity.  If you choose this method, consider this research completed by Priceonomics and Redbooth:

  • On the typical day, we complete the most tasks (9.7%) at around 11AM
  • After lunchtime, our productivity drops — and it completely plummets after 4PM
  • We complete the most tasks at the beginning of the week, on Monday (20.4%)
  • We’re least productive at the end of the week (Friday, 16.7%)
  • The highest percentage of tasks are completed in October (9.5%); the lowest percentage of tasks are completed in January (7.2%) – I find this interesting.  I would think that with the new year and new goals, that productivity would rise.
  • Fall ranks in as the most productive season, and winter (22.8%) is by far the least productive season – I’m again surprised with this…I would think summer would be the least productive.  But that might just be a Michigan thing.  We only get about 3-4 months of nice weather!

The research shows that productivity declines throughout the week as shown by the percentage of people who report completing most tasks each day:

  • Monday – 20.4%
  • Tuesday – 20.2%
  • Wednesday – 19.3%
  • Thursday – 18.6%
  • Friday – 16.7%

In regard to the month of the year, the researchers’ theory is that the reason productivity increases throughout the year is that the beginning of the year is focused on setting goals, and as the year nears its end, the focus changes to reaching those goals. This clears up my initial confusion from that statistic!

But this research should not be used alone if deciding on the best office day.  Another scientific study of workplaces and behavior by the American Psychological Association found that people are least civil with coworkers at the start of the week.  But as the week goes on, they become more friendly and engaging with those they work with. Perhaps they have the post-weekend blues in the beginning the week?  Or like the movie Office Space – “a case of the Mondays.”

In the end, I don’t think there is any magic day that’s ideal for the office. Perhaps survey your employees and find out what works best for them.

Pre-pandemic, ASE’s set office day was Monday. It was a nice way for us to start off the week.  We made it fun by doing “Monday Foods.”  Each Monday a different staff member brought in a breakfast treat to share.  Remote days were either Tuesday/Thursday or Wednesday/Friday, dependent upon employee preference and department needs. 

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