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Most of us will know that feeling – our attention can drop off during the day and our efficient mornings can then blend into less efficient afternoons. And Friday afternoon? Well, you can write that off!

This feeling, or assumption, is now backed up by some science, and pretty solid science at that in a novel piece of research.

The research was conducted by a team around Drs. Taehyun Roh and Nishat Tasnim Hasan of the Texas A&M University. Much previous work has used self report studies or wearable technology for short periods of time – these can be invasive and in the case of self reporting very subjective.

In this study the researchers tracked a large group of workers (789) at an energy company in Texas over two full years making this an impressive real world dataset. What they found is that computer use and output increased to Wednesday and then dropped off until Friday.

What’s more, usage dropped off in the afternoon and also typos increased – a sign of fatigue and wavering attention. This was particularly bad on Friday afternoons – probably no surprise there – fatigue setting in not to mention the psychological impact of the looming weekend.

The authors argue that this also supports shorter working weeks and other forms of work such as hybrid work or working from home as this can counter fatigue and increase productivity.

After looking at the data it seem like it would make sense to just cancel Friday! Alas but then Thursday may become the new Friday. But seriously, evidence is strong for the effectiveness of the 4-day work week. One solid study published early in the year for Cambridge University showed increased wellbeing while preserving productivity.

Sounds good to me!

Andy Habermacher

Andy Habermacher

Andy is author of leading brains Review, Neuroleadership, and multiple other books. He has been intensively involved in writing and research into neuroleadership and is considered one of Europe’s leading experts. He is also a well-known public speaker, speaking on the brain and human behaviour.

Andy is also a masters athlete (middle distance running) and competes regularly at international competitions (and holds a few national records in his age category).

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Taehyun Roh, Chukwuemeka Esomonu, Joseph Hendricks, Anisha Aggarwal, Nishat Tasnim Hasan, Mark Benden.
Examining workweek variations in computer usage patterns: An application of ergonomic monitoring software.
PLOS ONE, 2023; 18 (7): e0287976
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0287976

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