How Remote Work Alters the After-Hours Scene

By: Kaydee Ambas · July 26, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Early Birds Get…

Turns out early birds don’t just get the worm — they get the whole table.

The days of 8pm dinner reservations — and perhaps even the accompanying late night out — may soon be a thing of the past thanks to the evolving state of the American workday. Over the past year or so, the schedules of many Americans have collectively shifted earlier.

For example, while traditional dinner reservations used to be made between 7 PM and 9 PM, many trendy restaurants are now booked solid from 5 PM to 6 PM. Some even close their kitchens by 8 PM. And midday activities like movie matinees are becoming increasingly popular.

Impact of Remote Work

This shift likely results from the rise of remote and hybrid work schedules.

In the past, most employees clocked out at 5pm, then typically faced a commute home and an afternoon of errands before evening plans could begin in earnest.

The flexibility of remote work allows today’s workers to buck this trend. Once the end of the day comes around, they can slam their laptops shut and hit happy hour by 5:05 PM.

The New PM Schedule

Based on data from Yelp (YELP) and Uber (UBER), the most popular times for restaurants, shows, and other PM festivities are indeed creeping up.

For example, restaurants now seat 10% of diners between 2pm and 5pm — a 5% increase from 2019. Uber traffic is also up during the hours of 4 PM and 8 PM, suggesting diners are going to and from dinner earlier. Even Broadway theaters have bumped the start time for one-third of Friday shows to 7pm instead of 8pm — and that’s in the city that never sleeps.

For early birds, this certainly seems like a blessing, even if it means a bit more competition for that worm. But t could be a good thing for night owls, too. By scheduling your evening activities on the later end, you might even get the place to yourself — just so long as it isn’t already closed.

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