Asia Minute: Fleeing the Office on Friday Afternoons

Feb 27, 2017

Credit Moyan_Brenn Tokyo / Flickr

As we start a new work week on this Monday, there’s news today about a potential new ENDING time for the work week. It’s earlier—but in some cases there’s a catch. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


If you get a little tired of your work week by Friday afternoon, you’re not alone.  And in East Asia, there’s a movement afoot to do something about it.

It’s already started in Japan, where the last Friday of every month is now called “premium Friday.”  And for certain government workers and employees of more than 130 firms around the country, that means the work day ends at 3 PM.  The first one was this past Friday—and results were mixed.

A survey by the Nikkei newspaper checked with more than 150 large companies and found nearly half of them had no plans to participate.

Not surprisingly, those who were able to join in seemed to like the idea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe knocked off early and did a little mediation at a Zen temple while employees of the Suntory beverage company basically started pau hana a little early.

The government says the idea should help with work-life balance and even help the economy by encouraging people to shop and go to restaurants.

That economic argument was one factor behind South Korea’s decision to explore an early office departure on Fridays.

The Seoul government is planning to encourage workers to leave at 4 PM every Friday—but there’s a catch.

Monday through Thursday, workers would stay an extra half hour each day.