November 1, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo

Political party the Greens has now said what everyone in Melbourne is thinking: Fridays are a work-from-home day so Friday night drinks are dead and Thursday night drinks are officially “a thing”.

It is no secret that in Melbourne, public transport revenue is down, car parks are not as full as they used to be and the roads on Mondays and Fridays are much quieter.

Melbourne’s city council has been pushing for a return to full city offices, in part because the ecosystem of cafes, restaurants and bars that cater to workers are suffering badly from two years of little or no trade with many shutting down as evidenced by empty CBD shopfronts.

But when bosses tried to demand a five-day week in the office, it didn’t go down well. Some opted to simply quit, others made clear they wanted the freedom to work from home without the cost and time considerations of a long commute. So the concept of “core” days in the office came about and Fridays were the most favoured days, closely followed by Mondays, to be at the home office.

Hoteliers and restaurateurs confirmed this trend, but you know it’s really serious when a politician dares to float a contentious idea on the eve of a state election. The Greens want a two-year $60 million trial of a four-day working week, which would see workers transition to a shorter working week with no loss of pay or entitlements, but with an expectation of better employee wellness and productivity.

Today, Melbourne Cup Day is the official holiday in celebration of a 161-year-old tradition, one of the world’s richest handicap horse races.  But many Victorians unofficially turn this weekend every year into a long weekend and again the roads yesterday were very quiet.

Which is a shame, because the four-day Spring Racing Carnival is one of Melbourne’s biggest earners, one of its designated major events and a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the year. The Australian Open tennis Grand Slam and the Formula 1 Grand Prix attract hundreds of thousands of attendees, local, interstate and international, who fill the hotels, restaurants, cabs and ultimately the city coffers.

These major events are used by the corporate market to reward and inspire staff, to entertain customers and for business development to drive that last quarter of the financial year.

It will be interesting to hear the business events industry’s response to this phenomena, but maybe Fridays could be remade as Face-to-Face Fridays for training, networking and team building.