As the four-day week, hybrid working, and summer hours become increasingly popular, Friday has become the de facto day to take off work. Even media tycoon Simon Cowell has given up working on the last day of the work week, because “it’s pointless”.
The 63-year-old multimillionaire recently revealed that he’s ditched the traditional work week and the hectic lifestyle of working almost 20 hours a day while running shows like The X Factor—and Cowell’s enjoying his newfound work-life balance so much that he’s evangelizing everyone else to switch to a four-day week too.
“Actually, the first thing is take off Fridays. Don’t work on Fridays, because you don’t have to,” the ‘America’s Got Talent’ creator told the British newspaper, The Sun, ahead of filming his new show America’s Got Talent Fantasy League.
“I’m not kidding about the Fridays,” the British entrepreneur doubled down. “I don’t think anyone should be working five days a week. It’s just pointless.”
Now, his Fridays are filled with entertaining his 10-year-old son Eric, by doing the likes of driving “25 miles to buy a Pokemon card”.
After decades of hustling, Cowell also revealed he has a few non-negotiable habits in place to maintain his work-life balance.
“Eat dinner at five o’clock. Don’t take calls after 5.30. Don’t read emails after 5.30. Watch a happy movie. And stay outside,” he added.
Why Fridays are pointless
Although Cowell didn’t divulge why he thinks working on a Friday is “pointless”—as opposed to, say, working on a Monday—research shows that most people are either working from home or avoiding work entirely on the last working day of the traditional work week.
Some 2.5 million workers have been ordered back to the office this year, with even the staunchest promoters of remote working like Meta and Zoom enforcing in-person working. But Fridays are rarely included in these RTO mandates.
Kastle Systems, which provides security for 2,600 buildings across 138 cities in the U.S., has found that most workers are at their desks from Tuesday through Thursday. While office occupancy rates on a Wednesday sits at 60%, this figure is slashed nearly in half on a Friday, to 33%.
Likewise, Steven Roth, chairman of New York–based real estate giant Vornado Realty Trust and one of New York’s biggest office landlords, recently declared that Fridays in the office are officially “dead forever.”
Meanwhile, billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg went as far as to claim that remote workers are all playing golf every Friday—and he may have a point. By 4 p.m. on weekdays, golf courses are packed, according to a Stanford University study.
If you can’t beat them, you may as well join them: For those who are actually working, the lack of teammates around means that it’s become impossible to schedule a meeting on a Friday and emails are unlikely to be read—so as Cowell pointed out, working on a Friday can feel pretty pointless.
Four-day week success
Cowell isn’t the only fan of the four-day week—many other employers, including Samsung, are adopting a shorter work week.
The shift to adopting a three-day weekend comes as pilots of the “100:80:100” working model—100% pay for 80% of the time, in exchange for 100% productivity—prove to be a roaring success around the world.
Following in the footsteps of Iceland, New Zealand and Japan, Britain completed the world’s biggest trial of a four-day working week earlier this year and experienced a 65% reduction in the number of sick days, maintained or improved productivity, and a 57% decline in the likelihood that an employee would quit, dramatically improving job retention.
The results even found that reducing employees’ working hours had a positive impact on the bottom line: Company revenue increased by 35% when compared to the same six-month period in 2021.
Meanwhile, in Iceland, where the four-day workweek was trialed between 2015 and 2019, workers represented by unions—close to 90% of the workforce—have now won the right to request a shorter workweek.
Likewise, in 2021, the Japanese government’s annual economic policy guidelines included a recommendation that companies let employees opt for a four-day workweek.