It’s 3pm and my radio alarm is going off. “It’s Friday – who’s got the Friday feeling?” Emma Bunton is asking on Heart. I groan and bury my head under the duvet. On the Tube on the way to my night shift at the 24-hour news site I work for, I pick up a copy of the Evening Standard. A double-page spread inside is offering me ideas for what to do with my weekend, from immersive cinema experiences to day festivals. I crumple up the paper in irritation. By the time I’ve sat down at my desk at 5pm, my friends' WhatsApp group has 53 new messages, with everyone discussing the plan for Saturday night. I passive-aggressively leave the group, full well knowing that my Saturday night isn’t until Wednesday.
Call me a misery guts, but there is nothing that frustrates me more than the assumption so commonly made in Britain that everyone works a regular Monday to Friday week. In our world of constant internet connection, remote access to work emails and never-ending social media updates, the idea of the general population unanimously celebrating the day of rest on the original day of rest seems archaic and bizarre. Speaking as someone who is sick and tired of patiently reminding my friends that no, I cannot make your birthday party on Saturday night, and no, I cannot join you for a boozy brunch on Sunday, I truly believe more credit should be given to those who never get to experience that goddamn ‘Friday feeling’.
It is true that the majority of Britain works from Monday to Friday. However, research has shown that nearly 20% of workers in Europe and North America are engaged in shift work, equating to around 3.6 million Brits (or 14% of the workforce). Other studies demonstrate that as much as a third of Britain’s workforce works outside the standard Monday to Friday hours. When you take a minute to think about it, there’s an exhaustive list of jobs which require weekend working: shopkeeper, waiter, chef, taxi driver, police officer, bartender, train driver, childminder, flight attendant, nurse, delivery driver, carer, actor, call centre worker, to name just a few. And that’s not to mention the teachers, lawyers, builders and many others who are in professions that require regular weekend working.
But why is this focus on conventional work hours so prevalent in Britain? Some believe it’s down to class, as many traditionally working-class jobs require shift work, whereas conventional office jobs do not. However, the role of the internet has meant more people are working on the weekends than ever – and across a huge range of industries. Journalism, for example, has completely transformed thanks to Tim Berners-Lee et al. Fifteen years ago, or even more recently, reporters would file their copy, head to the pub and the publication would be sent off to the printers. These days, the news never stops and you’d be hard-pressed to find a national newsroom that is ever empty – even at 3am on a Sunday morning.
So what can Britain do to redress the balance – other than cut down on the infuriating #FridayFeeling (or the even more atrocious #FridayFeels) posts that permeate social media and can be incredibly annoying, even if you’re not working the weekend.
For starters, we as a nation should tone down our emphasis on Friday being the end of the week, and, while we’re there, stop colloquially referring to Monday to Friday as the working week. We should be more sympathetic to our friends who do not have the luxury of throwing shapes on the dance floor on Friday and Saturday nights and be sensitive to their unavoidable FOMO by starting a new WhatsApp thread to discuss ‘weekend’ plans. Even better, we could demonstrate our love for our weekend-working friends by helping them celebrate their Saturday nights with a couple of bevs – even if that means going to work slightly hungover the next day.
And if you, dear reader, spend your Friday night standing on the wrong side of a bar, or celebrate the day of rest sitting in front of a screen writing articles about Kim Kardashian (been there, done that), then stay strong. Remember that you’re in a (not very exclusive) club of roughly 33% of the country and let that help you grin through the Friday feeling pain, the endless stream of WhatsApp messages and the unavoidable FOMO. And I highly recommend that, when your hungover friends are complaining about suffering the Monday blues, you patiently and politely drop into conversation how much you’re looking forward to your upcoming weekend.