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Welcome to the WFH Friday economy: It's a time for hair masks, spas, day drinking, and no-camera meetings

Juliana Kaplan,Noah Sheidlower   

Welcome to the WFH Friday economy: It's a time for hair masks, spas, day drinking, and no-camera meetings
  • Work-from-home Fridays are becoming popular among white-collar laptop workers.
  • Offices get fewer bookings on Fridays, and leisure businesses are seeing a Friday bump.

For Hannah Kristin, the last day of the workweek has a new name: Hair Mask Friday.

Kristin, 25, started her career remotely after graduating in 2020. Now, she goes into her Chicago office Monday through Thursday — but never on Friday. It's sacred.

She often starts the day with a boutique fitness class or long morning walk, grabs coffee from a little shop near her apartment, and gets laundry started, all before the workday begins — things that would be far more difficult to do on days she needs to commute. A lot of the time, she has no video calls on Fridays, so she can put in a leave-in-conditioner hair mask to rejuvenate.

"I truly love going into my office Monday through Thursday," she said. "I think at my age it's really important to be in the office. It's a great way to make friends."

But the flexibility of work-from-home Fridays is a nice counterbalance to the bustle of in-office work.

"Being able to be remote is something I value so much just for that one day," she said.

Kristin is one of many white-collar workers contributing to the growing work-from-home Friday economy. As hybrid work has cemented for a certain segment of white-collar workers, Friday has become the de facto day for staying home, ongoing research from the Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes shows.

It's not great news for all businesses. Downtowns that rely on lunchtime food traffic have been forced to limit hours, cut staff, and, in some cases, shutter completely. Still, interviews with owners and managers of cafés, bars, gyms, and beauty salons suggest that businesses are seeing an uptick in earnings during Friday work hours nationwide. Plus, workers say the day is now "for the girls" — a time to unwind and let loose.

A break from work island

At Burly Coffee, a local coffee shop in New York City with two locations in Brooklyn, Fridays are "definitely the busiest day of the week," according to its co-owner Tom Colella.

Importantly, Burly is far from the epicenter of where most New Yorkers work: Manhattan, or, as it's known to some, "work island."

"Wednesday is our slowest day. We have long hypothesized that Wednesday is the day with the most people commuting to work," Colella told BI.

He appears to be right that office visits peak midweek and taper off on Fridays. Kadence, a management-software company for hybrid workplaces, found that in April, an average of 24% of total desk bookings at offices happened Tuesday through Thursday, 17% on Monday, and just 10% on Friday.

Whether they're technically working from the office or not, people seem to be out and about more on Fridays. Data shared with BI from, a foot-traffic analytics platform, shows that many chain businesses see more foot traffic on Fridays compared with the rest of the workweek — second only to Saturdays.

Friday was the most popular day for spa and salon appointments booked on ClassPass in 2023, according to data the company provided to BI. The top time for fitness classes on Fridays in 2023 was 12 p.m. — perhaps indicating a rush of lunchtime exercisers. The top time to hit the salon or spa was 5 p.m. on the dot.

Upticks in foot traffic at Starbucks, Sweetgreen, and Panera Bread shown by could suggest people are more frequently treating themselves to lunch or coffee out, working at coffee shops, or signing off earlier from work on Fridays.

Indeed, an ActivTrak analysis of 75,000 workers found that whether or not they were going into the office on Friday, they were signing off at about 4 p.m. that day, compared with 5 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays.

Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economist who's a leading WFH researcher, told BI that was a shift from before the pandemic when every day "was pretty much the same." Sure, there were spurts of relaxed Fridays in manufacturing and Friday after-work drinking culture, but Bloom said since the 1990s, Fridays had been pretty much like every other day.

"And then from 2021 onwards, it started to become the WFH day. As a result, Thursday night is the new Friday night — the night to go drink with colleagues," Bloom said.

Michele Allard, a master hair colorist who owns Mint Bklyn Hair Studio, told BI that Fridays tended to book up more — and that clients would sometimes bring their laptops with them to appointments. Otherwise, they usually come in during their lunch hours.

"The workload seems less on Fridays," she said.

'The world is my oyster after 2 p.m. on a Friday'

Sara Daigle, 25, works both on-site and remotely for her merchandising role in Dallas. During the pandemic, her whole firm was completely remote; now, they're three days in and two days at home.

"Personally, I don't mind it, but driving in rush-hour traffic every day twice a day is just not my favorite thing," she said.

By contrast, Fridays are her favorite day; she works from home and still has a special pandemic perk — year-round summer Fridays. That means she's able to log off at 2 p.m. and enjoy more time for herself. Like other remote workers, that means a lot more spending for Daigle.

"Really, it's kind of like the world is my oyster after 2 p.m. on a Friday. If I were to look back at all of my credit-card statements, it would be Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then nothing all week," she said.

Daigle also represents the next generation of workers, who may codify WFH Friday into a new standard. After all, she's part of the generation that graduated into pandemic WFH and never had to work in-office on Fridays.

"That very rigid regime of working, I think that's getting pushed out as everyone's getting older and moving up," she said. "Now, Gen Z people have been out in the workforce for four or five, six years now. Everyone's kind of either in a management position or on their way there." That goes hand-in-hand with a permanent WFH Friday and a more flexible schedule.

"Work-from-home Fridays are for the girls. That's my closing remark," Daigle said. "It's for the girls and for the happy hours."

Are you completing side quests on WFH Fridays? Contact these reporters at and

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