A New Hybrid Working Model: Could You Close Your Office One Day a Week?

In the post-Covid world, businesses continually experiment with new ways of working. Is ‘Blackout Friday’ a sensible approach to the challenges of hybrid work - or a step too far?

What is Blackout Friday?

Among the more radical ideas to control and realise new commercial benefits from the hybrid working revolution is so-called Blackout Fridays - the process of shutting down your office (or part of your office) on the last day of the week.

Law firms in London, including Kingsley Napley, have closed down floors in their office on Fridays since 2023, reducing their power consumption and other occupancy costs while retaining their ability to scale space when needed.

“It makes total sense to reduce the number of floors we open on a Friday, given the majority of our people prefer to work from home that day. This new initiative is borne out of the flexibility we offer our people and is a win-win for the environment and our cost base at the same time."

Kingsley Napley

The long Good Friday?

Despite recent rumours of a general uptick in FOW (Friday Office Working), the preferences of Kingsley Napley’s workforce can be seen as part of a broader trend in the population.

Only 13% of office workers now go into the workplace on Fridays.

Consultancy Advanced Workplace Associates survey

Commuter hubs like the City of London have famously become deserted on Post-Covid Fridays, as hybrid workers choose to optimise their work/life balance by losing the stressful end-of-week commute. 

Given this general shift - the scene is set for many companies to manage their buildings more effectively to cut the waste and environmental impact of underutilised space.

The pros and cons of blackout Friday

The pros

1. Save energy costs by not lighting or heating specific parts of the office

Kingsley Napley reckons they will save £100,000 annually in energy, cleaning, and maintenance costs through this initiative.

Kingsley Napley relocated its London office to Bonhill Street in Shoreditch in the summer of 2021. The new digs are designed to be adaptable so that lighting, heating, power and water can be selectively turned off across all closed floors.

2. Contribute to environmental goals

Using less energy reduces your carbon footprint and can contribute to your ESG goals.  Likewise, less commuting can decrease congestion and emissions.

3. Encourage synchronicity in hybrid habits

If most people are WFH on Friday, the business can plan group activities more effectively for the rest of the week. 

4. Retain the ability to scale up office space if demand returns

Implementing Blackout Fridays, rather than relinquishing office space, gives you the ultimate flexibility to scale up access as required in the future.

The Cons

1. Fridays could become a communication black hole - or worse.

Mike Ashley (CEO of the House of Fraser) famously backtracked on the ‘Fraser Fridays’ he had introduced during the pandemic after seeing a marked drop in productivity on that day.

Executive David Al-Mudallal reportedly wrote in his memo ordering teams back into the office - that there were:

“Too many examples of people or teams not being contactable when they need to be …and colleagues who via their social media profiles are demonstrating they’re not treating Friday as a working day.”

2. Varied impact across different roles

The feasibility of WFH on Fridays may not be uniform across all roles within an organisation. For some employees, especially those in critical or customer-facing positions, WFH may not be practical, creating a two-tiered system of WFH privilege within your company.  

3. Fridays in the office may end up feeling lonely and isolating

Younger team members often do not have great WFH setups, forcing them to come to work while older colleagues enjoy the comforts of their home office.

They risk feeling cut off and disengaged if the Friday workplace feels empty and unloved. 

How to make the most of your time together - and apart

Could you make Blackout Fridays a working reality in your business?

Of course,  your Blackout Day doesn't have to be Friday. It's up to you to choose the day that works best for your business in consultation with your team.

But whatever you decide about the timing of your closures, here are some key elements to consider:

  • Ensure you can keep communicating digitally (one-to-one and one-to-many) even when your team are working from home on Friday. You should have the procedures and software in place to make communication seamless, ensuring no divide between office-based and home workers.

  • Ensure the Friday office feels as buzzy and interesting as possible for those still working from there.

  • Ensure floors that remain open are set up for seamless hot desking. People Management Magazine report that Kingsley Napley has planned this just right: 

“Feedback indicates that the policy has benefited those who do choose to come in on a Friday by allowing them to “collaborate and build relationships with new colleagues from different departments who wouldn't normally sit or work together”.

  • Selecting the appropriate agile furnishings to accommodate various work configurations, combined with comfortable and adjustable workstations, ensures that individuals working from the office immediately experience support and connectivity.


  • Ramp up your efforts to 'magnetise the office' the rest of the week

Supporting hybrid working means maximising opportunity for communication,  learning and socialising when your people are together.  Research shows that this kind of engagement builds bonds, reinforces your business culture and increases worker loyalty.

There are many ways to make your office a 'destination' that your workers value. Balancing hybrid flexibility with access to an exciting hub for collaboration and training is the dream for many.


The advice from companies who have bought into this policy is that communication is paramount to its success.

“The success of a blackout Friday policy... is dependent on organisational culture, the nature of the work, and specific reasons behind the blackout. It's important for HR and management to communicate these expectations clearly to employees to strike a balance between operational needs and employee flexibility,”

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, career coach and director of HR consultancy 10Eighty

  • Don't alienate those who still need to use the office.
  • Plan your blackout days well in advance so no one is caught by surprise.
  • Make sure everyone knows how they will work and what is expected of them.

Are you ready for the future?

As Dylan Jones has commented in London’s Evening Standard, the effect of WFH Fridays has been extreme: 

"It’s like a bomb has dropped in London, with deserted streets around Moorgate, empty shops in Broadgate, the surrounding restaurants all starved of trade.”

But while he and others may lament the effect on the city's culture, nightlife and the broader economy, there is no guarantee that the emptying trend will continue forever.  We are still in a state of flux and experimentation.  

Embracing the realities of hybrid working with a Blackout Friday approach could mean capitalising on opportunities for cost saving and reducing your carbon footprint, while retaining strategic flexibility as businesses, cities and workers ‘adjust to a new normal’.

Beyond Hybrid

Beyond Hybrid