Over the past two years, employees have grown accustomed to working from home. And, despite some working longer hours than usual, the perks—more time with family, shorter or non-existent commutes, and added flexibility—far outweigh any shortcomings.
But the world is slowly returning to normal, and that means a return to offices—for real this time, at least occasionally—for some people.
According to Wired, a 2021 survey by LinkedIn found that nearly half of remote workers said their employers want them in the office once or twice a week moving forward. More than a third were asked to come into work three or four days a week in the future.
That means employees have some control when choosing their hybrid work schedules, which is leading many to wonder: Which days are best to WFH? and What days should I work in the office?
Coming up with a clear answer or a one-size-fits-all approach to returning to work isn’t so simple.
Are You an MTFer or a WTFer?
There are as many “best days of the week” to work from home/go into the office as there are terrible, vaguely NSFW-sounding acronyms for them.
According to Wired, there are MTFers—people who plan to go to work Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.
Then, there are MTWers—people who work Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and get the final two days of the week at home.
And, finally, there are WTFers—people who work from home at the start of the week, then show face for the final three weekdays.
But really, that’s only scratching the surface.
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Clearly, There Are Advantages to Each Hybrid Work Week Combination
According to Bloomberg, Mondays are being considered popular WFH days for project-based people. As are Fridays, but for opposite reasons—it’s easier to end a bit early and start enjoying the weekend sooner if you’re already at home.
LinkedIn research previously indicated that Mondays and Tuesdays were likely to be the busiest days in physical workplaces—good for extroverts who want to level set for the week, but not so much for introverts who want to get down to business.
And a scientific study found that colleagues become less civil as the week goes on, indicating that Wednesdays and Thursdays were particularly bad days to work in the office, which may be important to consider if co-workers’ adherence to workplace decorum and office etiquette is being factored into your WFH equation.
For Some, It Also Pays to Be Strategic
When deciding upon the best hybrid schedule, a bit of strategy is also being considered by some.
“The rules are changing and so is the potential to exploit them,” says The Economist’s resident columnist on management and the world of work. “To flourish in the era of remote working, employees will need the cunning of Machiavelli and the tactical brilliance of Napoleon.”
For him, working from home on a Monday signals you might’ve been “drinking all weekend.” It’s a bit suspicious. Same with staying home on a Friday.
“To avoid suspicion, don’t pick Monday/Friday or Thursday/Friday as your remote combination,” he writes. “Tuesday and Thursday might be a good selection, as it means you will be at the office (and thus visible) every other day.”
If pulling a fast one on your employer isn’t your thing, the Wall Street Journal has some thoughts on how to get “the most face time with senior leaders” in their “Overachievers Guide to Hybrid Work.”
According to managers and leadership coaches, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are shaping up to be the preferred office days for employees. But they also suggest to “simply come in as much as possible” to maximize face time.
“Though many companies say they are letting workers keep some degree of flexibility, it is inevitable that employees with the most in-person access to leaders will get the first crack at promotions,” says Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
All of This Seems to Be Missing the Point
As Diana Wu David, author of Future Proof: Reinventing Work in an Age of Acceleration, tells Wired, there is no one single day (or days) to go into work, at least generally speaking.
“The smart thing about the impulse to pick a day is simplifying [a] routine,” she explains. “But thinking more deeply about what individual teams, projects, or people need is better.”
When deciding when to work from home, go into the office, or how to structure your hybrid work schedule, what you should really do is consider your team’s availability, when you work best, and how to maximize your time together, so you can focus on the most important tasks that require collaboration, and save your time at home for deep work (or when you need some flexibility).
When deciding what the best days to work from home are and which days you should work in the office, Elizabeth Grace Saunders, a time management coach writing for the Harvard Business Review, suggests asking yourself four questions:
- What tasks do I prefer to do in the office?
- When does my team need me?
- How can I maximize my productivity?
- When do I feel the least motivated?
As Amanda Mull argues in The Atlantic, the beauty of the hybrid work model is its flexibility and being able to choose what’s right for you.
“Being constantly forced to ask permission to have needs outside your employer’s Q3 goals is humiliating and infantilizing,” she writes. “By letting people choose their own office adventures, employees can gain back some of what’s sorely missing in… work culture: self-determination.”
That level of choice and ambiguity may seem daunting to some who have worked remotely over the past two years. But if anything, it gives you the freedom to focus on what really matters each day of the week—whether that’s working in-office with your team, focusing on a particular project at home, or making room for activities and errands in your personal life.
Embrace the change.