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Friday End Of Working Day Etiquette

There is a certain Friday end of the working day etiquette that should be obvious to all who work in offices, sadly however as proven this Friday it’s not to so many. Before we begin we need to clarify a couple of terms:

Friend: A person who you know and hang out with outside of work.

Work Friend: A person who you know and hang out with outside of work but know from work.

Work Colleague: A person from work who you know but DO NOT hang out with outside of work. The ‘DO NOT’ is the key part of this description if it wasn’t already obvious.

During the hours of 9-5 Monday to Friday (or whatever your equivalent is) it is almost impossible to have any meaningful contact with your friends, the people you actually like (although there is a grey area of friends you have that you don’t actually like but that’s for a different Siary (one I must have already written at some point)) and therefore your precious time is limited with them to evenings, weekends and holidays.

The next group of people are work friends and they are the people that get you through the mundanity of office life, whether it be through messaging, or if they are in your office, face-to-face contact. These are people that having been vetted as work colleagues have progressed to actual friends and importantly are people you actually enjoy spending time with.

The final group of people are work colleagues and there is nothing wrong with being a work colleague (although there can be lots of things wrong with you also). These are the people that range from absolute arseholes to people you don’t mind at all but are people you DO NOT hang out with outside of work. This can be for many reasons or circumstances but aside from work dos are never seen or communicated to outside of work. You interact with them between nine and five Monday to Friday (or whatever your hours are) and that is enough. It’s enough for them and enough for you. When you leave the office you have better and closer friends that you can interact with. This now brings us onto the Friday end of working day etiquette that also applies to any end of day at work but is significantly more heinous to disregard on a Friday.

If you are a work colleague you have had 40 hours throughout the week to interact with me and myself with you and that is plenty of time. If you have missed that opportunity for whatever reason you have another 40 hours next week to interact with me as I do with you. What is unacceptable is the following:

I had to work late on Friday as being a couple of team members down, work was piling up and stuff needed to be cleared. I was already on non-work time and that in itself was bad enough. As I began to crack on the first work colleague turned up…

Still working are you Hero?

Well I thought that was patently obvious otherwise I wouldn’t be here but now you have established this and surely worked out I would prefer not to be would you kindly leave me alone so I can finish as soon as possible and go home?

What happens next of course is the said work colleague decides this is the perfect time to tell me all about their weekend, some ‘interesting’ anecdotes from all parts of their life and how busy they have been all week; all information that has no use to me in any way whatsoever. This lasts twenty odd minutes and they must know, they MUST, that this leads me into the dreaded cleaner zone. At this point and just before the cleaner turns up they wish me a good weekend and say ‘don’t work too late’ at which point I start cursing because I was trying not to but you ensured whatever time I do finish is now at least thirty minutes later.

The cleaner zone is a no-man’s land of time. Between work hours officially ending and the cleaner zone you have a productive 30 odd minute gap of no-one being around where you can crack on and get stuff done. There are no people, no phone-calls and no additional emails to deal with. This is a golden period where if you crack on you can achieve more than you did for the preceding eight hours of the actual working day (unless it’s interrupted as described above). Then arrives the dreaded cleaner zone.

Fifteen minutes into the golden half an hour of peace the worry starts to grow in the back of your mind; can you finish all you needed to before you get to the cleaner-zone, if not then it’s an automatic extra 30 minutes on your day.

There is no evening cleaner that has the ability to realise you might want to go home as soon as you possibly can because you have already worked all day even though every conversation starts like this:

Are you still here working?

No I am here on holiday! Of course I am still fucking working!

Having worked out you are still working (and no-one else you work with is) they even then empathise with the fact you are the only one that is before launching into a twenty minute conversation about their life. A life that, as they are a work colleague and not as already established a work friend or an actual friend is one that you really don’t care about. It is also a conversation that five minutes after you’ve had it, you can’t remember any of, hence it becoming a no-man’s land of time.

The cleaners at my work are lovely and they should have people to care about their life and their anecdotes but it shouldn’t be me at 5.30pm on a Friday. Whatever I still have left to do, after those twenty minutes has an extra ten minutes added to the time because the distraction would have destroyed any last remaining focus I had left and I have to force myself to reapply myself.

This Friday I had both of the above and my 4pm finish (we finish early in theory on a Friday) had been delayed by an hour and a quarter but thankfully and finally at 5:15pm I shut off my laptop. A dream of dinner and maybe if I was feeling crazy a glass of IPA was floating through my exhausted brain as I locked up the office and headed off site…

You’re working late aren’t you…

Oh for fuck’s sake…

I contemplated just walking past but realised I hadn’t yet put my headphones in and therefore there was no way I could pretend I hadn’t heard him…

‘I was, off for the weekend now’ I replied

That surely was enough of a hint to even the simplest of simpletons.

Have you heard about what they have done to our terms and conditions….

Nope of course not, you work in a different field to me and therefore I haven’t given it a moment’s thought. I can’t see it ever being something I would think about but if in the smallest of possibilities it ever does happen I can guarantee I won’t be thinking about it as I am leaving work late on a Fri… oh you are going to tell me all about it.

He proceeded to tell me all of the negative points about something that had no relevance to me. This was not only a work colleague but one that as far as I could remember had never previously talked to me before or if he had for no greater length of time than it took to ask for a form that I issue.

In this twenty minutes the highlight (aside from it ending of course) was him telling me how it meant he now had more time to spend with his wife and gave me that knowing look that men do of how painful that is. I nodded in complete agreement as, as always I aim for the fastest exit from a conversation as opposed to the right answer. Having spoken to him at this point for coming up to five minutes I imagined his wife would have every right to have the same complaint in reverse.

In all honestly this conversation probably only lasted five minutes but having endured two previous work colleagues it felt so much longer. Also these work terms and conditions as well as being irrelevant to me were also things I could have no influence over. Talk to your boss, HR or the Union I said at least three times… you know anyone but me, especially on a Friday at the end of a work day!

This course of events meant my music of choice changed on the way home from potentially Agnes Obel to definitely Machine Head. The Friday end of work etiquette should be so obvious (and I know it is to my intelligent and good looking readers) that this whole Siary needn’t be written. However because the world is full of assholes (some of whom are nice) it has and is another reason to add to why I preferred it when I was forced to work at home.  If concerts and holidays aren’t going to come back then bring back the full-lockdown, I could do with the break!