That remote worker on mute may be getting a weekday haircut

That Remote Worker on Mute may be Getting a Weekday Haircut

WINTER PARK — Cosmetologist Brianna Hill looks her customers in the mirror to get them to move their phone from one ear to the other as she cuts their hair.

Two or three times a week,her clients at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop are on work calls. Some bring laptops to their appointments, and others write emails as she snips away.

“A lot more people do work from home,” Hill said. “So they’ll take their lunch breaks or if it’s not a busy day at work they can leave their home real quick for like an hour.”

Hill estimates that half of her customers work from home. It’s convenient for them to come in during the week instead of the weekend, and it benefits her, too.

In 2021, she switched from having to work a weekend shift to working weekdays only, good news for the 31-year-old single mother of a 9-year-old boy.

“I get the weekends off to hang out with him,” Hill said. “I get the evenings, too, to be able to help him with his homework and stuff like that.”

Weekday haircuts are just one of the changes in how people work brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, and Orlando is far from the only place experiencing it. The New York Times reported in March that remote and hybrid staffers are boosting daytime workout, leisure, and haircut businesses.

“Oh, it’s rare,” Hill said of not having to work weekends and evenings in her line of business.

But it’s easy for established employees at Floyd’s who have built a book of clients to make the jump from weekends to weekdays, said Sarah Sleeth, who along with her husband, Kyle Sleeth, are the local franchisees of Floyd’s. The chain, open seven days a week, has six shops and about 130 employees in Central Florida.

“Now their customers are a lot more flexible,” Sarah Sleeth said.

Take Frank Santos, the 68-year-old vice president and CFO at Rosen Hotels & Resorts, who had a Friday appointment during his lunch break.

His barber, Maximilian Merlin, 42, also switched to a Monday through Friday schedule, and Santos was able to stick with him because he works from his Winter Park home on Fridays.

“At Rosen, we’ve become more flexible with remote working,” Santos said. “I would only let [Merlin] cut my hair.”

Barbershops also aren’t swamped on weekends and quiet on weekdays anymore.

“We would be 30% busier on the weekends. Now, we’re 10% busier on the weekends,” Kyle Sleeth said. “It’s just spread out more throughout the week.”

Another big change Merlin has noticed since the pandemic is most customers make an appointment instead of showing up.

“You don’t have just a bunch of people waiting in the waiting room anymore, which you miss that sometimes, but there’s a stress level that’s gone with that,” Merlin said.

Merlin, like Hill, has customers once or twice a week who will take meetings on their phone while getting a trim.

“They’ll just have it on mute, and they’ll have it in their ear, and you’re cutting around,” Merlin said. “They’ll be like, ‘I have to answer this,’ and so I’ll just stop cutting for a minute. ... It’s pretty boss.”

Santos said he isn’t attending meetings in the barber chair. At least not yet.

“I never thought it would be allowed,” Santos quipped. “I’m going to talk to [Merlin] about that.”