Man sitting in boardshorts

Flex Fridays allow workers to own their day

The new trend of adapting work schedules for the modern workplace

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
3 minute read
Man sitting in boardshorts

Many have heard about “Free Dress Friday”, the casual or relaxed dress code observed by some workplaces at the end of the week.

Fewer have heard about “Flex Fridays”, the latest trend doing the workplace rounds.

As organisations experiment with ways to retain employees and attract new ones, offering a flex day could hold some promise.

Although Flex Fridays – sometimes called Free Fridays – means different things in different workplaces, the concept is underpinned by a desire to give employees some control over how they spend the last day of the traditional working week.

Common workplace practices

The most common application of Flex Fridays is a day free of mandatory meetings or check-ins. This provides employees with an opportunity to complete project work, clear emails or undertake professional learning.

There is also a version of Flex Fridays that allows employees to choose to work in a location of their choice.

It might include the office, at home, a café or another location.

Some employers take Flex Fridays to an even higher level.

In a move not too dissimilar to a four-day working week, employees are given a choice as to whether they work or want to take the day off.

One variation of the Flex Friday theme is that employees are given Friday afternoon only – not the full day – to do their own thing.

Other employers offer a more conservative approach by offering flex days on a semi-regular basis – perhaps fortnightly, monthly or quarterly.

A benefit that goes both ways

Depending on which model of Flex Fridays is chosen, employees argue the benefits include a day free from interruptions to allow them to engage in “deep work”, personal time to refuel and get errands ticked off, the opportunity to level up on skills and a less stressful start to the weekend.

Employers who support Flex Fridays maintain most employees can manage their time in a way that is best for them.

They argue that when employees are given the freedom to manage their schedules in a way that suits them best, the entire organisation benefits.

Further, they claim Flex Fridays can enhance employee morale, increase productivity and build greater loyalty to the organisation.

Some credit Flex Fridays with reducing absenteeism while other bosses argue the day is a boost to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

Many see Flex Fridays as a way of signalling to prospective employees that their company is passionate about providing an enhanced employee experience.

Flex Fridays will not suit every workplace – particularly those that require “front of house” staff to be on duty at all times.

And some bosses are rightfully reluctant to offer their workers a flex day for fear everyone will take the day off work to create operating challenges for the workplace.

Flex Fridays are certainly not the workplace norm.

However, the concept is catching on fast and represents another tool in the kit for those employers seeking to provide an improved experience for their workers.

And if Fridays do not suit, there is always the option to introduce Malleable Mondays, Tailorable Tuesdays, Wriggle Wednesdays or even Twistable Thursdays.