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Early Fridays = Higher Productivity

by Innovationbubble | 6th October 2016 | posted to Insights

Do you still finish work at 5pm or even, god forbid, 6pm on a Friday?

There is a growing trend for businesses to let their employees pack up early on Fridays. Red Bull announced the 29th July 2016 to be the official ‘National 4pm finish Day’ and reports have it that Kellogg’s has been letting its employees leave early on Fridays for years to boost morale.

Parkinson’s Law

For those still sceptical of the idea: There is at least some observational evidence backing up the idea that finishing work early leads to more productivity.

Parkinson’s Law: ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion’

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Parkinson’s Law was introduced in 1955 by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of a tongue-in-cheek essay in the Economist and was based on his experiences with the very slow workings of the British Civil Service.

The main idea described by the law is that, if being given a week to complete a task then, psychologically, the task will expand to fill the time.

Before you know it, you will have spend 2 days worrying about the task, 2 days planning drafts, scrapping things out and getting distracted by social media.

Hence, the task itself won’t necessarily expand but the time available will be filled with stress, anxiety and actions that are only ever so slightly related to the task at hand.

Why does this happen?

The question is why we fail to assign just the right amount of time to a task, to be as efficient as possible. The answer to this seems to be heavily influenced by social drivers. Currently, the prevailing idea within businesses seems to be that working harder is better than working fast and smart.

Working harder is believed to be better than working faster and smarter

Hence if one finishes his or her tasks very quickly, chances are that they won’t be acknowledged for it but rather be given even more tasks, to fill the spare time. This may also explain why people tend to assign themselves more time than needed – to have a bit of ‘legroom’ and, somewhat nonconsciously, to seem busy.

So, what does the Parkinson’s Law mean for businesses?

Early Fridays = Higher productivity and more satisfied employees

It’s simple, really. If employees are allowed to pack up earlier on Fridays, they will naturally manage their time to accommodate for this, meaning increased productivity. Moreover, from a psychological point of view, employees will feel more appreciated and will perceive their employer to be giving something back to them, which will further increase employee satisfaction.

Therefore, even though summer is over and many companies only apply their ‘early Fridays’ policies to the summer months, there is good reason to implement it throughout the year.

What experiences have you had with early Fridays? Let me know in the comments below.

Written by Lea Zeller