It’s Friday. But no longer the whoopee day at work. From my conversations with business leaders over the past couple of months, in the new hybrid working week, Friday is almost universally a day for WFH.

Trips into central London confirm this. While Mondays and Tuesdays seem to rock with unfamiliar gusto, Fridays are eerily quiet. Watch out for those tumbleweeds.  As I write a sweet-sounding pensioner from Eastbourne, Eunice, is indeed littering the pavements of the capital with all manner of vegetation. A good thing, therefore, that many of us are at home today.

How strange, though, to be able to march confidently into a London restaurant on a Friday without either a reservation or a plan B up your sleeve.

In navigating the world of work post-lockdowns there are plenty of challenges. When does encouraging staff to make an appearance at the office begin to sound like it carries an ‘or else’? How to synthesise behaviour so that those who turn up avoid spending the day on Zoom calls with those who don’t?

Patience and learning will help. Finding the right balance will be vital.

Fundamentally, it can no longer be assumed that, for those who have a choice, traveling to a communal place of work is the default. The office needs to be rebooted as a magnetic destination where employees leave in the evening all the better for having made the journey.

Another recurring topic relates to the working from home day itself, especially when it ends. I have heard accounts from individuals at all levels of how difficult it can be to close the laptop and declare that work, excepting emergencies, is over for the day. Whether driven by guilt, anxiety or simply the desire to achieve, the lack of physical detachment from a workstation is proving to be problematic for some, adding unhelpfully to the challenges of the job.

Setting aside situations in which employers and co-workers seek to exploit this phenomenon (in the guise of driving productivity), there is surely an opportunity for management teams to give permission to the people they lead for more benign self-regulation.

In a meeting this week with an enlightened agency CEO, we settled on the notion of undistracted hours as the way through here. In short, hours spent at the office and those spent at home are not equal. The former, while essential for meaningful human interaction, can be prey to interruption and deviation. The latter tend to be head down and undistracted, with only coffee or tea making to break the spell.

As my host concluded, it is possible to complete a full day’s worth of tasks at home by mid-afternoon.

So, let’s cut each other some slack. Agree ambitious but realistic goals for a WFH day and stop when they are met. If that happens to be 4.30pm, so be it.

Then go and do something to reward the endeavour. And that’s ok.