Major Canadian cities see higher downtown foot and transit traffic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
A trend is emerging among Canadian employees who split their time between working in their home and downtown offices — and it has gained a naughty nickname.
When given the choice, more hybrid workers are staying in their soft pants on Mondays and Fridays, while suiting up the rest of the week.
This new kind of work schedule has become so popular, it's given rise to a crude abbreviation.
It's an acronym, made up of the first letters of the days of the week that these employees are in the office, forming into a slang term for genitalia: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Better than WTF (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
Using anonymized location data from cellular phones, commercial real estate firm Avison Young has been tracking the gradual return of downtown workers in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
Over the last five months, foot traffic in those urban centres was heaviest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — and lightest on Mondays and Fridays.
A similar pattern was seen in May on public transit in three Canadian cities. In Toronto, average boarding numbers on subway trains were 663,000 on Mondays versus 751,000 on Thursdays.
Also in May, there were noticeably fewer passengers taking the Toronto subway southbound from the Bloor-Yonge station into the downtown core on Mondays and Fridays, compared to Wednesdays and Thursdays.
People boarding buses and trains set to depart downtown Vancouver between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. would peak in the middle of the week and drop off on Mondays and Fridays, according to numbers from TransLink.
Ridership on Calgary buses followed a similar pattern, peaking mid-week and dropping on Mondays and Fridays, according to numbers from the city.
TW-T workers mean coffee sales are down
With more employees setting their own schedules and working from home Mondays and Fridays, some businesses who rely on office workers are feeling the pinch — such as Cecile Lau's coffee kiosks, which are located within Calgary's network of downtown walkways.
"So [over] the last month, Mondays and Fridays are doing half of the sales compared to mid-week — Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays," said Lau. "It's like we're operating four days. But it's an expense on the fifth day, because even if it's slow, I have to put staff here."
The caffeine purveyor said she is also getting fewer requests to cater corporate lunches on Mondays and Fridays, which she calls a big blow after having made it through two lean years of pandemic restrictions and office closures.
Lau would like to see the TW-T crowd turn back into a MTWTF crowd.
She told CBC Radio's The Cost of Living that it would be much nicer if all her customers came back, saw each other's smiling faces and met in person. They'd also be able to more readily enjoy the benefits of enjoying a coffee in person, rather than over a video call.
"Smell the aroma," said Lau.
Soft pants preferred on Monday and Friday: survey
Between April 11 and May 2, 2022, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) surveyed riders about their intentions as they transitioned from working from home full-time to a hybrid arrangement.
When asked which days riders preferred to work from home, the majority surveyed said Friday, followed closely by Monday. Wednesday and Thursday ranked below Monday and Friday, with the least popular day to work from home being Tuesday.
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A manager with the Business Development Bank of Canada, who asked to remain anonymous as he did not have permission to speak for his employer, said nearly everyone on his team follows a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday work-from-home schedule.
"After the weekend, you can relax, sleep in [and] take your time. And then Fridays, stop working and enjoy the weekend," he told The Cost of Living.
'High-trust environment' can work for a TW-T
Employers such as software firm Wave Financial said even if employees are easing into their week (and weekends) by working from home on Mondays and Fridays, it doesn't mean they're not getting their work done.
"We have a high-trust environment," said Ashira Gobrin, the company's chief people and culture officer, from her home in Toronto. "Everybody has proved that we can work productively from home."
Wave Financial has about 350 employees across North America. Before the pandemic, those workers travelled to their offices daily. But since then, the company has adopted a hybrid approach.
"We don't want to tell people they have to be back on these days, or at these times. We'd like people to retain the flexibility that they've so much enjoyed, and be able to take ownership of which spaces are the best for their work," said Gobrin.
Hybrid work is now a fact of life for many companies, according to Cissy Pau, a principal consultant at Clear HR Consulting in Vancouver.
Pau's perspective is that managers who mandate workers to return to the office on certain days need to be prepared to lose staff, because, right now, in the face of labour shortages in some sectors, many employees hold the cards.
"I think there's going to be employees that say, 'I'm not doing that. That's just not going to work with my life,'" said Pau.
"They've had the flexibility for two years and … employees can vote with their feet, they can walk, because there's such a shortage of talent."
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