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Friday – to Work or not to Work – That is the Question…

Meet the author:

Tal Levanon – Founder and partner in “Tal Levanon – HCP Ltd”, an expert project scheduling consultant and creator of the Hidden Critical Paths (HCP).


Schedule management: Friday – is it a full workday, a partial workday or not a workday at all?

First – let’s emphasis: this problem is unique for places where people work full 5 days a week and some work on the sixth day. For example – in Israel, we work Sunday through Thursday and a partial workday on Friday. 

So, back to the question – Friday, in this situation – is it a a partial workday, a full workday or not a workday at all?

Depends on who you ask…
The answer will almost always be: of course we’re working Fridays!
But… when it is time to write down the schedule, details must be examined carefully.
By default, all schedule software (in Israel…) do not have Friday set as a workday.

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Schedule: Friday = full workday

If Friday is a full workday, same as any weekday, then Friday must be set as a full workday according to the same work hours of weekdays. Details should be changed in “Options” – work hours/week and workdays/month will increase. If you added 8 work hours (8 am – 12am, 1 pm – 5 pm, the default setting for weekdays), you now have 48 hours/week and 25 workdays/month. Read my blog – The Mystery of Lost Time

Schedule: Friday = partial workday

But… In most cases (in the construction & infrastructure sector in particular) Friday is not a full workday. And what about output? Best case scenario – same as half a workday.

How will the schedule be managed?
This is where the “games” begin; some set Friday as a 5-hour workday (8 am – 1 pm), some set it as a 6-hour workday (8 am – 2 pm), among other settings – per the imagination of the scheduler.


This is where we should look at what a schedule software does – any software. (This example is based on Project):

Let’s assume we set Friday as a 5-hour workday from 8 am to 1 pm in the general calendar.
If we set Activity A to be 6 workdays, and it begins on Sunday, then the software tells itself:
“Software: hmm… 6 workdays, 8 hours/day, meaning, I need to assign 48 work hours for this activity”. In practice, the software runs on minutes, but for the explanation’s sake, we’ll stick to the hour-based overview.😉
“Software: OK, so let’s set this activity from Sunday at 8:00 am to Thursday at 5:00 pm. That’s 40 hours. Now we’re left with another 8. We have 5 hours on Friday, so we will assign the last 3 hours to Sunday from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. Simple as that! Problem solved.”

HCP app | Friday – to Work or not to Work – That is the Question…

Activity A, 6 workdays, from Sunday, Jan. 1st, at 8:00 am to Sunday, Jan. 8th, at 11:00 am.

Excellent. Is it though?

The next activity, Activity B, will be assigned from Sunday at 11:00 am, and let’s say it also takes 6 days. The software will assign it from Sunday at 11:00, 48 hours, to the following Sunday at 3:00 pm.

HCP app | Friday – to Work or not to Work – That is the Question…

Activity B, 6 workdays, from Sunday, Jan. 8th, at 11:00 to Sunday, Jan. 15th at 3:00 pm

Excellent. Is it though?

The next activity will begin on Sunday at 3:00 pm. Wait a minute… Ever seen an activity that begins at 3:00 pm?

Few among us will start an activity at 3:00 pm when the day is almost over.
Most of us would tell themselves – well, we’ll start tomorrow. What’s the difference between starting now at 3:00 pm or early tomorrow morning?
(Bright and early, we’ll come refreshed, like new, and work vigorously…) 😉

This is how a built-in delay is formed in the schedule! Delaying an activity every week by just a few hours – in a project that spans weeks/months/years – would create a delay of days/weeks.

Schedule management: what is the solution?

It’s very simple. Leave Friday as a no-work day. If work is done in the field – then the schedule represents an overview of what we did not manage to do on weekdays – we will try to finish on Friday. Some kind of a small weekly buffer (with an emphasis on small).
One week has 5 workdays. Two weeks have 10 workdays. One week and a half – can have either 7 or 8 workdays; it depends on us. An activity starts in the morning and ends when the workday ends.

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Schedule management: so where’s the problem?

The problem starts with projects where we want to schedule more activities than we have time for – where we set Friday as a full or partial workday – to try and make the schedule show that we “would be able to perform the project”.
If you received a timetable where Friday is set as a workday – full or partial – and all tasks are assigned by days (not weeks or months), then the recommendation is: turn on a warning light.
If the schedule has activities that begins in various times of the day… This often results from Friday being set as a partial workday. The recommendation is: turn on a warning light.

The meaning of the warning light will be: the chances of finishing the project on the time specified in the schedule are not high at all.

Schedule management: what should we do?

My recommendation – Fridays and holiday eves are not workdays.
And if you absolutely must set them as workdays – set them as half a weekday, not 5/8 or 6/8.
Remember – the goal is to build a true schedule, one that can be met.

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