Soft Fridays in the workplace

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Health Assured team

05 June 2024

Leaders should always be on the look out for ways to reasonably support their people. Looking after your people is more than boosting morale and staff retention, it improves productivity and encourages the growth of your organisation.

During the pandemic, we saw a rise in hybrid or remote work to abide by social distancing rules and in 2024 many organisations still offer this as an incentive for employee wellbeing with the idea to improve work-life balance.

Leaders are actively acknowledging the need for their people to have a good and successful work-life balance without compromising on organisation’s performance or targets.

Recently, there has been more discussions around the idea of ‘Soft Fridays’ where employees are offered more autonomy over how they work on their Fridays, such as leaving earlier, starting later and working from home. The trend is so popular within the US that it increased by 56% during 2022.

What are soft Fridays?

Soft Fridays became a talking point in the 1960s when a New York organisation gave their people the chance to decide how they work on Fridays to change their approach on colleague wellbeing.

Soft Fridays is the idea of flexible working schedule on Fridays, offering employees a unique way to take back some control over how they work on Friday. The ultimate aim of Soft Fridays are to encourage improved employee wellbeing and productivity for the organisation, through better work-life balance and a boost in employee morale.

This could mean allowing your people to leave earlier, come in later or working from home. As a leader, there is a lot of potential in implementing Soft Fridays, with the ability to tailor the approach to your workplace and how you want to offer further support for your people.

Examples of the Soft Friday ideas:

  • Working from home
  • Leaving early
  • Arriving late
  • No meetings all day
  • Casual dress
  • Longer lunch breaks
  • Office games and quizzes in the afternoon

How do soft Fridays affect productivity?

Sending a positive message

According to the University of Oxford, happy people are 13% more productive within the workplace. Putting the mental health of your people first is essential. Finding new ways to support your people is a great way to make them feel respected, valued and happy in their workplace.

If an organisation is seen to care about their employees, the employee will care more about their work and productivity.

Employee autonomy

In a study, 59% of workers said that flexibility within the workplace is more important to them than salary or other benefits.
Allowing your people the ability to dictate how they spend part, or all their Friday, gives them the freedom to decide how they work and when they work. This flexibility boosts morale, company loyalty, staff retention and encourages better workplace culture, subsequently increasing productivity.

Work-life balance

Since Covid, more people are looking for a better work-life balance with 47% of people seeing good work-life balance as a unique selling point for job roles. People are no longer willing to compromise their personal life for their career and vice versa. Offering a soft Friday approach can offer a better work-life balance for your people, boosting their mental wellbeing and productivity.

How can Soft Fridays affect mental health?


In a study, conducted by Mental Health UK the evidence showed that 5% of employees experienced constant stress and 29% felt frequent stress at work, subsequently risking  burnout.

Burnout should be taken seriously and there are a few things that could help your employees in getting that much-needed rest. Soft Fridays offers your people an opportunity to take back some of their time to rest or put energy into their personal lives, boosting mental health and offsetting burnout.


Stress is a growing issue within UK, with 1 in 4 adults feeling unable to manage stress and pressure in their workplace. Like burnout, Soft Fridays offer a unique way of supporting colleagues who feel stress and pressure whilst at work by encouraging colleagues to take the time to rest. So, they are better able to focus on your organisation during the rest if the working week.

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