Mondays Are the New Office Fight | Mint

Mondays Are the New Office Fight

Bosses are making a push to get workers into the office on Mondays as a way to kick-start the workweek and boost productivity.
Bosses are making a push to get workers into the office on Mondays as a way to kick-start the workweek and boost productivity.

Summary

  • Bosses argue that starting off the week in person—instead of remotely— creates good energy

When Jeff Hornstein asked his staff to come back to the office on Mondays, he says, it didn’t seem like such a big ask.

The executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia wanted regular goal-setting meetings and team-building at the beginning of the week for his 12-member staff.

“Mondays are the best day for it," Hornstein says. “It gets people into work and out of the weekend." Besides, he says, an economic-development group should spend some time downtown patronizing the businesses it works to support.

Some of his staff didn’t see it the same way. “That didn’t feel like a good enough reason," says program director Kiersten Mailler. Research director Mike Shields pointed to research on the historical origins of a traditional office schedule, arguing that requiring employees to physically come into work was an antiquated notion.

Hornstein and his staff settled on a compromise: to meet in person every other Monday.

“I wouldn’t say it was mutual happiness, more mutual begrudgement," Shields says.

Office Attendance Expands

Bosses are making a push to get workers into the office on Mondays as a way to kick-start the workweek and boost productivity.

Though more workers are coming in on Mondays, they still lag behind Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for office attendance. On the Monday before Memorial Day, the office occupancy rate was at 45% of prepandemic levels, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security badge swipes into buildings across major U.S. cities. That is up from a 41% rate on the same Monday in 2022, but far from the 58% who went to offices the Tuesday before Memorial Day this year, Kastle said.

A survey of 4,500 companies’ return-to-office policies conducted by hybrid-workplace software company Scoop found that nearly 300 require employees to come in on specific days. Of those, just under a quarter ask employees to come in on Mondays, with many more stipulating staff be in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Just 7% tell employees to come in on Fridays, according to Scoop.

More Monday office mandates could be ahead if the economy falters and workers worry about job security, Scoop co-founder Rob Sadow predicts.

“Employers may start to use that as an opportunity to be more strict on the number of days spent in the office," he says. “If a company goes from three days a week minimum to four days, there’s a good chance that Mondays would be that increase day."

New-Week Energy

Monday is “like New Year’s Day," says Sumir Meghani, chief executive and co-founder of Instawork, a staffing firm that places hourly workers. “You reset your intentions, set a fresh start. People bring their morning energy to the office."

Because Instawork places workers in hourly roles—often performed on the weekend—it is even more critical to regroup and collaborate on Mondays, he says.

“Our business happens to be particularly busy during the weekend," he says. “Mondays are a good day to review. There is a lot of collaboration with key business metrics."

Other in-person days are Thursdays, and Meghani is thinking about adding Tuesdays as another in-person day after Mondays. “It’s a continuation," he says.

At AvalonBay Communities, which develops and operates apartment buildings across the country, Mondays are extra important days to meet and collaborate given the apartment showings and other activity that happen during the weekends, says David Alagno, senior vice president of human resources.

AvalonBay Communities employees at corporate and regional offices are required to show up to work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Customers look at apartments on the weekend and get a leasing process started. Weekends are also when many service requests come in.

“We need to be prepared to support our teams," Alagno says. “Monday is a big day." He adds that staff members, accustomed to the rhythms of a postweekend workload in the real-estate business, have been receptive.

Bare-Minimum Mondays

Some employees think Monday should be a gentle start to the week, and a movement for “bare-minimum Mondays" has taken hold on social media. In the vein of quiet quitting, the trend is about doing the least amount of work required. Among its advocates is Marisa Jo Mayes, a 29-year-old former medical device sales representative, whose January video on making Mondays more relaxing went viral.

Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom, who studies flexible work arrangements, says in-person Mondays might sit better with 20-somethings, many of whom have expressed a desire to work in offices and aren’t so tethered to their home lives. The mandates will be “less appealing for workers in their 30s and 40s with school-age children, so you will see higher churn in that group," he says.

Members of Hornstein’s team in Philadelphia say that the Monday meetings detract from deep work. “My Mondays are normally my most productive day, and these in-person Mondays torpedoes that," says Shields. The office meeting usually lasts until midafternoon, and any real work has to wait until the next day, he says. “Tuesday becomes my Monday. It ends up being a bare-minimum Monday."

Another member of Hornstein’s team, program director Kenyatta James, says the office seems noisy compared with the calm at home. “We see being in the office as a dead day," he says. “The walls are thin and you can hear everything."

As touchy as Mondays can be, says Bloom, Friday is a third rail for workers.

“Trying to get employees in five days a week, including Fridays, is the fastest way" to upset people, says Bloom. “Fridays are the clear winner on WFH days."

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