back to article Official science: People do less, make more mistakes on Friday afternoons

Boffins have spent two years monitoring the computers of office staff at a large Texas energy concern and found that workers did less and made more mistakes in the afternoon – particularly on Fridays. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, comes from authors Taehyun Roh, Chukwuemeka Esomonu, Joseph Hendricks, Anisha …

  1. Stork Silver badge

    Dire Straits

    Abolish Monday mornings and Friday afternoons.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Dire Straits

      And the Sultans Swing.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Dire Straits

        You think I’m going to give you Money For Nothing? Signed, your boss.

        1. b0llchit Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Dire Straits

          I'd settle for chicks for free?

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: Dire Straits

            Maybe you wife would be interested in those Private Investigations?

            1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

              Re: Dire Straits

              I feel like I'm in the army now

              1. Potemkine! Silver badge

                Re: Dire Straits

                It has to evolve, can't stand the status quo!

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: Dire Straits

                  I like what you are proposing here.

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Dire Straits

      On 'the continent', Friday Afternoons already seem to have been abolished. Try getting a call through to company in, say, Portugal, on a Friday afternoon. They sensibly take a siesta. (At least I have never got through at the end of the week.)

      1. MOH

        Re: Dire Straits

        I tried to ring the Irish Revenue Commissioners last week and they seem to have abolished all afternoons. They only answer the phone from 9-1

        1. IGotOut Silver badge

          Re: Dire Straits

          They have to take the sacks of cash in brown envelopes to the bank in the afternoon.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Hey, just a minute there !

    "found that workers did less and made more mistakes in the afternoon – particularly on Fridays"

    Ah HAA ! Yes ! I see it : false advertising !

    The title leads the reader to conclude that it is on Friday afternoons that more mistakes are made. That is not the conclusion of the boffins.

    Clickbait ! Clickbait !

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Hey, just a minute there !

      eh, wat u saying,

    2. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

      Re: Hey, just a minute there !

      This is because this piece was posted on a Friday afternoon, I presume...

  3. Scott 53


    It's probably OK to deploy code on a Friday, as long as it was written and reviewed earlier in the week.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually...

      And as long as it's not you who's on call that weekend...

      1. Dizzy Dwarf

        Re: Actually...

        Show the on-call person the love: Friday afternoon into a bank holiday weekend.

      2. Dinanziame Silver badge

        Re: Actually...

        This — The reason we don't push on Friday afternoon is that it might take a lot more time to realize there's a problem and fix it when the whole team is away on Saturday.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Actually...

          At our place, where I never go anyway, I've noticed upgrades, deployments and other big changes are often booked in for Friday evenings, the logic apparently being that if it does go pear shaped it can be rolled back with the minimum of disruption to the work week, ie either it works or it's rolled back before Monday morning. I assume the relevant people doing the job are pre-booked into Saturday and maybe even Sunday on a provisional basis, ie they are there and expecting to work and the "bonus" is going home as soon as the job is done, hopefully without issues and still the weekend, or most of it, off.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Actually...

      But who is going to do it?

      I'm already finishing up and winding down. It's noon on a Friday, nobody is going to be rude enough to give any task that will take time now.

      I guarantee if I try and contact people I will get radio silence.

      1. Electric Panda

        Re: Actually...

        At my place Teams is generally a sea of yellow from Friday lunchtime onwards, with most are offline for good much earlier in the day.

        I get the ick messaging anyone from about 3pm onwards.

    3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Testing, and Testing

      Ah, but was the deployment script also tested before Friday?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually...

      Actually the key point is "someone else has to fix it Saturday when It breaks"

  4. Bebu Silver badge

    dies poetae

    For those (younger? persons) who don't know or never worked out why Friday was called poets' day:

    _Piss _Off _Early _Tomorrow's _Saturday.

    This fine piece of research confirms that there are productivity gains in having your workforce taking an early mark and absconding to the pub on Friday afternoons.

    Besides you can never get a pew in a CBD watering hole much after 4.30pm. Even standing room is at premium. Certainly I am been forced to enjoy a few overpriced ales on the Pitt Street pavement served out of a street window. Summer afternoons in Sydney is excellent drinking weather :)

    1. James Anderson

      Re: dies poetae

      As the study was based in Texas I doubt the Friday afternoon result was due to lunchtime pub sessions ( regular almost compulsory event in 2970s London).

      I think the afternoon flagging is due to the excessive hours gullible mercans get conned into.

      You can only expect about 4 hours of high quality work from a techie per day long term. Conning them into 10 hour days only makes more work for the bug reporting software.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: dies poetae

        @James Anderson

        "4 hours of high quality work" from a techie?

        You serious? So much? Citation needed.

        I sacked* all my "techies" years ago when I realised it was cheaper to change to an O/S that didn't need tech support as it seems the o/s I chose just does what it is supposed to do. With (so far) no problems.

        *When I say "sacked" I really mean paid them off, big time.And we all still go out a couple of times a week for a booze up

      2. TheRealRoland

        Re: dies poetae

        >regular almost compulsory event in 2970s London

        Posted this on a friday afternoon, did ya?

        1. James Anderson

          Re: dies poetae

          Small fone BIG fingers.

      3. mirachu

        Re: dies poetae

        2970s? Not that I doubt you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Besides you can never get a pew in a CBD watering hole ...

      What about a THC watering hole?

    3. Rikki Tikki

      Re: dies poetae

      "forced to enjoy a few overpriced ales on the Pitt Street pavement served out of a street window"

      Ewwwww ... that's disgusting. At least round these parts, we drink from a glass.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, when did they compile the result?

    Not by any chance early Friday afternoon?

    Just checking :)

  6. Jay 2

    My US colleagues tend to follow a pattern of having whichever poor soul is on-call being the one to do CMs/patching/etc after work (~5pm their time) on Friday evening.

    Given that they know our culture (hic!) and possibly more so that we can't mess with some servers during their working day, we tend to do our round of the same thing on Saturday mornings. People have commented on if it's wise doing such things with a hangover, but on the main occasion I recall making a boo-boo I hadn't been out the night before.

    1. VicMortimer

      I was gonna say, I'm very confused by all of this.

      5 on a Friday is THE deployment time for anything big. Yeah, it means my weekend is fucked. But it means the next week I'm taking Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday off if things went well over the weekend, and it means I've got until Sunday evening to roll everything back if it didn't work.

      And of course I take a nap Friday afternoon before doing anything big. If something interrupts my nap, maybe updates get delayed a week.

  7. werdsmith Silver badge

    I worked with a sysadmin who disabled the passwords of any tech people who returned to work after lunch on a Friday afternoon.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      What is this "return to work after lunch on a Friday afternoon" of which you speak?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        The one where your phone rings Friday lunchtime (when you're in the pub, of course) and you're told the week's invoicing has fallen over. The second week it happened, after sorting out the mess, the rest of the afternoon was spend going through the source code - 3rd party application but not quite enough source to compile provided - to find out just what they'd done to make the database engine blow its memory allocation.

      2. ITMA Silver badge

        Must be some strange foreign concept.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          At my main work, in Spain the Friday afternoon is officially off.

          Now we just have to expand it to UK, IE, FR, NL, BE to have everybody happy.

          (if it did work for having a day off for your birthday - it started in SP and was expanded Europe wide - no reason it couldn't be done for this too)

  8. DrDoug

    Read-Only Friday

    For many years, due to past experiences, I've operated a read-only Friday philosophy - nothing worse than having your weekend ruined by something that was put into place on a Friday, even worse if it's a Friday afternoon!

  9. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Narrow but uncertain applicability?

    The authors themselves state "other activities not observed in this study could significantly impact overall productivity. For example, the reduction in computer use might be caused by engaging in different types of activities, such as participating in meetings or planning on Friday".

    So the results are only relevant to physical computer use, and the study is also weak because "[t]he study included participants from various computer-oriented, office-based positions, such as admins, geologist, accountants, and engineers, within the company. Although demographic and other individual factors were not collected, these characteristics were assumed to be distributed evenly, and the effects of outliers would be minimal, due to the large sample size" -- a somewhat suspect assumption. A distinction should have been made between performance of routine processes on computers and the use of computers in support of intellectual tasks. Indeed the words 'thought' and 'think' are absent from the paper.

    1. Ian Mason

      Re: Narrow but uncertain applicability?

      Hey, at least they stated their assumptions.

      I recently read a paper on how exercise modes affect blood pressure that was reported in the the press akin to "These two exercises could reduce your dangerously high blood pressure" where they made the assumption that the control groups in the papers they were doing a meta analysis of were sufficiently similar to allow all the studies to be linked. Of course they (1) didn't actually state the implicit assumption or (2) provide any evidence that the assumption held thus rendering the paper little more than prettily worded bunkum and the conclusions worthless.

      Unlike this paper, which at most is going to be used to justify a bit of Friday afternoon bunking off, that paper is going to possibly genuinely and seriously affect the health of people who get an exercise prescription from a medic who (a) didn't read more that the conclusions or a report of them, (b) isn't smart enough to spot the terrible methodological mistake.

      1. JustAnotherDistro

        Re: Narrow but uncertain applicability?

        Almost the entire literature on blood pressure and health is contaminated. Study after study is either poorly designed, or, worse yet, cleverly designed by a pharmaceutical company to correlate a measurable change in a physical sign with "good outcomes." The medication does push the sign in the right direction, to be sure: that can happen only in patients with less underlying morbidity. Then, the "positive" study results come about from unmasking patients with less severe underlying causes, who where going to have better outcomes anyway. The medications themselves have hardly any benefit, and often quite the contrary.

        If a lot of these medications actually worked, the "number needed to treat" would be much lower.

        Years ago, the Lancet bravely pointed out that really good treatments only needed small studies--that massive studies were powered to show clinically insubstantial benefits--and that they were, ipso facto, unethical. It was brilliant, and of course, ignored.

  10. CJatCTi

    We call it F**kup Friday

    a) There seems more chance it will go wrong

    b) There is less chance that someone who can un-F**k it will be avalible

    So best avoid making changes / doing updates, unless you want to have a lonely weekend reparing the damage

  11. Plest Silver badge

    Showing my age

    My old man says, "No one ever bought a British Leyland car made on a Friday afternoon!".

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Showing my age

      Is that because it's the only time they made them?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Showing my age

      ...or made at any time on any day of the week.

      With a few exceptions - some Jags and Range Rovers - BL cars were crap. The only good thing to say about BL's "cars" is they were slightly less water soluble than those from Fiat/Lancia/Alfa-Romeo - or a spoonful of instant coffee.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Showing my age

        To be fair to Brit cars, the only reason US cars didn't rust quite so badly is the water had so many gaps to escape from.

      2. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

        Re: Showing my age

        This. My first car was an old BL, and one day I painted all the rusty bits with Waxoyl. Stayed together fine. Then I decided it looked tatty and washed it off again. Said car then pretty much fell apart.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge

    A lesson learned early on

    I had been in IT about a year when I made "No Changes on Friday" one of my mantras.

  13. phuzz Silver badge

    I bet elReg's page views go up on a Friday afternoon (adjusted for timezone). There's a reason BoFH comes out on Fridays.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      "words typed"

      Do the statistics include posts on this here web site? And all the times I've typed "teh" instead of "the"?

  14. Pierre 1970


    Publishing the article on a Friday is almost an order to just avoid making any mistake so I'm going to stop working for the rest of the day.

  15. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    "people made significantly more typos"

    Or maybe they do more important stuff and are more alert in the afternoons and fix more autocorrect f...wittage?

    Oh, well - coat...

  16. Giles C Silver badge

    My Friday afternoon

    Was spent rewriting a template for a change about 4 times, every time I thought it was done I found another bit to add to the list. To be fair it is a template for upgrading a site and we want to have one template that can be adapted for the 40 building we need to do 4 times a year. So it was worth it.

    As the finished document with 1300 words with the rewrites and the other documents I was working on must have typed about 8-10000 words yesterday…..

    No I don’t know how many typos I made only that at the end the documents made sense.

    I sometimes think I am a writer with a sideline as a senior network security engineer and not the other way round….

  17. harmjschoonhoven

    I remember

    Fridays as the day projects were finished, not tested ....

  18. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I never saw this problem in my early work days

    I was employed to work helping to build a hospital, and almost all of the people I worked with were Irish, everyone took lunch-time off at the local pub and our lunches were normally only about 6 to 10 pints. Once we all got back and started climbing up the outside of the building (there were only ladders, no lifts) we were a little slow but always very careful after lunch, Monday to Friday every week. No problems at all.

    I guess you now know how I started hearing Brendan Behan ... "I saw a notice which said, 'Drink Canada Dry' and I've just started." ... LOL, a lovely memory, drinking lunch with all those Irish guys.

  19. Spanners Silver badge

    If we changed to a 4 day week?

    If we changed to all working Monday to Thursday, would this result in all the errors being moved to Thursdays?

    Or if 20% of us got any one day off, would that spread the errors more evenly across the week?

    Even before I had (semi) retired, I had announced that I will not be working Mondays or Fridays. Now, part-time, I am less worried about my errors!

  20. t245t

    Department of the blindingly obvious (DOH)

    From the Department of the blindingly obvious (DOH)

  21. MachDiamond Silver badge

    My last "real" job

    The last time I was working for somebody else, Friday afternoon was often used to catch up on documentation, what I managed to get done that week with a prioritized list of things that need to get done the next week. I didn't want to get stuck into working on a design that I wouldn't get done and have to pick up days later. Monday morning was an all-hands meeting and conference call and I didn't want to try and do all of my notes that morning. I could spend Monday morning before the gathering to go through my email and get out some calls before people on the East coast of the US were off to lunch.

    When I interviewed at a company that I would have loved to work with, they had what was called "5 o'clock math". Any serious calculations done at the end of the day had to be reexamined the next working morning for errors. The management preferred that the last 1/2 hour or so was used for tidying up and making sure to-do lists for the next day were ready to go. It was another company on the West coast of the US near Seattle and it could be important to get calls done first thing.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everything has to be authorised

    So there's absolutely no point anymore doing anything Friday or over the weekend.

    Because the manager who has to authorise it will be working Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

    And will have the work phone off.

    (And won't actually know what's going on anyway.)

  23. jmch Silver badge

    Number of typos???

    Maybe I'm reading this 'table' wrong, but it DOES say "the mean number of words typed and typos was as follows:

    Monday – 427/145.7


    So approximately a third of all words typed contain typos???

    (yes, it was a Texan firm, but still...)

  24. DR_EVIL30564

    We call them "Read Only Fridays"

    The only stuff that gets worked on for IT on Fridays are helpdesk type requests or emergency situations that need to be fixed ASAP. We don't change the network, do any work on server upgrades or patches, new server deployments, etc.

    Basically, it is a do not do any work on a Friday that you might be required to fix or undo if it goes sidesways over the weekend policy.

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