Are Early Log-Offs the New Norm?

Summer Fridays have long been a cherished tradition in many workplaces, offering employees the opportunity to kickstart their weekends a little earlier. However, recent data suggests that this trend might be evolving, with workers across the US logging off as early as 4:03 PM on Fridays, according to a survey by workplace-analytics firm ActivTrak. This departure time marks a decline of nearly an hour from previous years, raising questions about the evolving nature of the workweek and employee engagement.

Dan Kaplan, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry’s Chief Human Resources Officers practice, notes that for some offices, even 4:03 PM might be considered a generous quitting time. The trend extends beyond Fridays, with average log-off times on other weekdays also shifting, reflecting changes in how and when employees engage with their work. The declining office occupancy on Fridays in major metropolitan areas, as reported by Kastle Systems, further underscores the changing landscape of work. With many employees still hesitant to return to the office and remote work blurring the boundaries of the traditional workday, employers are grappling with issues of productivity and engagement.

Alma Derricks, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry, highlights the disparity in flexibility across different industries, noting that not all workers have the luxury of leaving early. Yet, the trend towards earlier log-offs on Fridays raises broader questions about work-life balance and employee well-being.

The pandemic has prompted many individuals to reassess their priorities and evaluate the significance of their jobs in relation to other aspects of their lives. As Mark Royal, senior client partner at Korn Ferry Advisory, suggests, leaders must weigh the trade-offs between productivity and employee satisfaction. Mandating strict adherence to traditional work hours may not necessarily yield the desired results if it comes at the expense of employee morale and retention. Instead, Royal advocates for a shift away from managing by the clock towards a focus on outcomes. If employees are consistently meeting their objectives and delivering results, then their departure time on Fridays should be of secondary concern. This approach not only fosters a culture of trust and autonomy but also acknowledges the changing expectations and priorities of today’s workforce.

To summarize, the earlier log-off times observed on Fridays signal a broader shift in the way we perceive and prioritize work. Employers must adapt to these changing dynamics by embracing flexibility and redefining success beyond mere hours logged in the office. By prioritizing outcomes over arbitrary measures of time spent at work, organizations can cultivate a more productive, engaged, and resilient workforce in the post-pandemic era.


Korn Ferry. “It Is 4PM: Is It Quitting Time?”, 2024