As more of us embrace hybrid working patterns and head for home earlier in the week, pubs and restaurants are noticing a new trend of post-work drinks on Thursdays
The long Friday power lunch is dead. In the new world of hybrid work, Thursday is rapidly becoming the most popular day for post-work drinks and networking as the majority of workers choose Friday to work from home.
The latest commuter figures show Monday to Thursday are still the ‘core’ days for workers to attend the office, with the numbers travelling into Dublin city still lowest on a Friday — down 40pc on 2019 figures, according to a spokesperson for Irish Rail.
Meanwhile, bars, restaurants and pubs are noting a bump in Thursday trade when workers end their commuting week a day early. And Friday lunchtime trade is down by up to 40pc, according to Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland.
Outside The Ferryman pub in Dublin’s docklands on a balmy Thursday evening, Orla McBarron, Emily Coppin and Marian Lynch are well placed to see the new rhythm of city life.
As office managers for commercial property firm CBRE, their job involves weekly visits to some of Dublin’s biggest offices. Emily says “everywhere is quiet at the end of the week — no one comes in to the office on Friday any more”.
Sipping from their glasses among scores of workers with laptop bags slung on their shoulders and office security tags around their necks, they explain the attraction of post-work drinks on a Thursday. “When you wake up the next morning, you don’t have to face a commute. You can go out for a run, clear your head and then you’re at your desk and ready for an early start,” Marian says.
“When you finish, there’s no rush to beat the Friday traffic. You feel like you get much more from your weekend. Everyone has more time for a personal life now.”
Orla adds: “Thursday is now the anchor day at the office. That’s the day people aim to come in because they know everyone else will be in too. We usually have pizzas and beers in the office on a Thursday.”
Research by psychologists such as Debbie Moskowitz from McGill University in Montreal has also found the end of the working week is the best time to do business deals and make important work requests.
Moskowitz says workers tend to be more agreeable, open to negotiation and willing to compromise as the weekend approaches because they want to finish their work before the week is out.
Outside Kehoe’s in Dublin’s South Anne Street a group of businessmen are proving her point. They have gathered to discuss business over cold pints of Guinness.
Claudius DeBeer and Pete Schram have flown in from the Netherlands because, they say, there are some deals that cannot be done over Zoom calls. They are meeting Eoin O’Neill, general manager and director of Maxol Lubricants.
It’s O’Neill’s third time in two months meeting suppliers, always on a Thursday, he says. He regularly comes to the bustling pedestrianised street, which is thriving midweek.
Nodding toward O’Neill, Schram says with a smile: “When we’re talking about price increases, I want to see his emotion in his eyes.”
They have spent the day in the office holding formal meetings and now it’s time for the kind of social bonding that video calls just do not allow for.
“There is no craic on a computer screen,” O’Neill says. “This way we can have personal interaction, enjoy a nice meal and taste a few beers — the way good business has always been done.”
Young workers are also joining the trend. Thomas Sammon and Ben Campbell work for Merx Aviation and are on their way to an industry event in Dublin’s Westbury hotel.
The new working week allows Sammon to travel home to his family in Donegal on a Thursday night and then return to Dublin on a Monday night after working from home on a Friday and Monday.
“Almost all our corporate nights are held on Thursdays now,” Campbell says. “Working from home on a Friday does make the weekend feel like you can get more out of it. When I go to the office now it’s always mid-week.”
Talk turns to the late Tony Ryan, founder of aircraft leasing company Guinness Peat Aviation and co-founder of Ryanair, who they both call “the Godfather” of their industry.
I relay a story about how Ryan used to call his top brass back to the office each week for a face-to-face meeting every Monday morning —no matter where they were in the world — and wonder how a businessman would cope with that in the new world of remote work. “I think he would struggle,” Campbell laughs.
Meanwhile, Richard Guiney, chief executive of Dublin Town, an organisation representing city businesses, gives his view of what these lifestyle changes mean for cities long term.
“Office lunchtime trade has definitely been impacted. It isn’t worthwhile opening for a lot of businesses if it wasn’t for tourism. When that ends in September and October it’s going to be challenging,” Mr Guiney said.
“The hybrid office model is here to stay. We’re going to see different trading patterns from here on out. The Monday to Friday trade will continue to be less because, overall, we won’t have the same number of office workers coming into the city.”
They’ll still have Thursday, though.