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Workers are more productive on certain days of the week

Research evidence suggests that labour productivity - output per hour worked - can vary over the course of the week. According to a new study from the Centre for Economic Performance| (CEP) at LSE, employers could therefore benefit by reorganising working time - perhaps by concentrating employees' hours in the middle of the week or introducing greater flexibility in work schedules. And there may be productivity benefits from shifting the timing of non-religious bank holidays from Mondays to Fridays.

The paper, Bad Timing: Are Workers More Productive on Certain Days of the Week? by Alex Bryson| and John Forth|, which is published by CEP's Manpower Human Resources Lab|, finds that:

  • The distribution of working time across the days of the week indicates when there is the biggest input of labour to productive activity
  • The traditional working days of Monday to Friday each account for around one sixth of the aggregate supply of working time across a typical week. Tuesday accounts for the largest share of working time (18.8 per cent) and Friday the lowest (16.8 per cent)
  • The pattern of working time varies considerably by industry sector: for example, weekends account for a relatively large share of total working time in sectors such as 'hotels and restaurants' and 'retail'
  • While there is scant direct evidence on productivity variation by day of the week, it does seem likely that daily output tends to reach a peak in midweek and tails off towards the weekend
  • There is also indirect evidence of variations in productivity by days of the week in productivity-related outcomes like worker absence patterns, injuries and accidents at work and reported job satisfaction
  • There is a need for more and better data on 'day effects'. But if productivity does indeed rise and then gradually decline over the working week, employers might reorganise their employees' working time so as to have a greater concentration of hours in the middle of the week
  • Employers might also offer even greater flexibility than is currently on offer in the scheduling of working time.
  • There could also be a reconsideration of the timing of bank holidays, perhaps shifting the non-religious ones from Mondays to Fridays
  • But there are a number of important constraints on reorganising the timing of work, including more people having to work 'unsocial hours' and the need to synchronise work schedules, especially in customer facing service sectors

Furthermore, workers are not randomly allocated to patterns of working time: they choose them or have them chosen by their employers for reasons that may also affect productivity. Such 'selection effects' mean that productivity will not necessarily be improved by reorganising the timing of work.


Alex Bryson is research director at the Policy Studies Institute and the Manpower research fellow at CEP. John Forth is a research fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

For further information contact Alex Bryson on 07969 179755 email: a.bryson@psi.org.uk|; a.j.bryson@lse.ac.uk|; John Forth on 020 7654 1954 email: j.forth@niesr.ac.uk|; or Romesh Vaitilingam on 07768 661095 email: romesh@compuserve.com| 

Notes for Editors:

The Manpower Human Resources Lab briefing paper: Bad Timing: Are Workers More Productive on Certain Days of the Week? was published August 2007.

The study Are There Day of the Week Productivity Effects? by Alex Bryson and John Forth is published as Discussion Paper No. 4 from the Manpower Human Resources Lab at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics, July 2007.

Press Cuttings

DNA, India (23 September)

Monday blues and TGI Fridays

Friday is the day on which we put in the least amount of work and Monday is the day when employees cite accident and injury to stay away from work, according to a paper by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.


Financial Times (8 September)
Tuesday proves super for work
Tuesday is not known as super for nothing. Not only is it the day when US presidential primaries are usually held, it is also the day on which Britons put in the most work hours, according to research published on Saturday. Friday is conversely the day on which we put in the least work, the paper by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics found.

Daily Mail
On Tuesday we work, on Friday we shirk

10 September 2007