A 9/80 Work Schedule - The Pros & Cons

The 9/80 work schedule is a popular option for companies that want to give their employees more time off. Learn what it's all about and if it stands a chance in your business.
Natalia Rossingol

Weekends are unfairly short, aren’t they? You wake up on Saturday morning, have coffee, do some errands…and suddenly it’s Sunday evening. Weekends often feel like a Groundhog Day: you deal with things that mounted up during the week, desperately trying to make time for fun and sleep. Sometimes you win the fight with chaos, sometimes you don’t, feeling even more tired than before.

At times like this, three days off seem like a perfect solution. It could be, but you’d have to pay a price. So let’s take a look at one of the alternatives to a traditional five-day work schedule - a 9/80 work schedule - and see what it’s about.

What is a 9/80 work schedule?

A 9/80 work schedule is a type of scheduling system that divides 80 work hours into eight nine-hour days, one eight-hour day, and one day off in a two-week period. In other words, instead of working 40 hours each week, it suggests working by two-week pay periods, adding one hour to each of the eight workdays, and this way earning an additional day off every other week.  

9/80 work schedule

This is a model of a new schedule that helps boost productivity and achieve a better work-life balance thanks to a long weekend. Working nine hours and completing tasks earlier, you get a chance to have a second Friday off and enjoy a three-day weekend.

An example of a 9/80 work week

So how does a 9/80 work schedule work in practice?

First week:

  • Monday: 9 hours
  • Tuesday: 9 hours
  • Wednesday: 9 hours
  • Thursday: 9 hours
  • Friday: 4 hours (first week ends) + 4 hours (second week starts)

Second week:

  • Monday: 9 hours
  • Tuesday: 9 hours
  • Wednesday: 9 hours
  • Thursday: 9 hours
  • Friday: OFF

The pros of 9/80 work schedules

A flex 9/80 work calendar has obvious advantages for both employees and employers. Let's go over some of them:

For employees:

1. Better work-life balance. Two extra days off give people an opportunity to schedule their medical appointments, spend more time with family, and even conduct personal business. Having more time to recuperate after a work week, employees probably won’t ask for more time off, and won’t need to take sick leaves that often. Besides, a good rest will help people feel more motivated to contribute to the workplace.

2. Less commuting. Driving to work takes time and money. Over a year, one extra day every other week will save a considerable amount of gas, as well as prevent cars from wearing out. It’s good for the environment too, after all.

3. Uninterrupted work periods. Long periods of focused attention have a very positive impact on productivity. Getting deeply engaged in an activity, people tend to demonstrate better results: being in the state of "flow", they often get good ideas and even insights.

Of course, this becomes possible only if the environment is favorable – for example, when people don’t get distracted with unnecessary things that can be avoided, like emails and meetings. This, on the contrary, will make them lose focus.  

For employers:

1. A flexible approach allowing people to do things that are often not available during weekends, like attending a school event or visiting a governmental organization, can attract many potential employees. In a situation when a competitive market gives people an opportunity to choose, an employer suggesting a flexible work schedule can have a huge preference.

2. Rested employees will have better morale and achieve better results. This will clearly benefit the company and increase its profit, sooner or later.

The cons of 9/80 work schedules

Unfortunately, a 9/80 work schedule has a dark side too. The disadvantages of this approach are serious and must be taken into account while considering it as the main work schedule:

1. Long hours. A three-day weekend may increase productivity, but a nine-hour day may substantially decrease it. First of all, people have different work rhythms: early birds are more productive in the morning, while night owls show work better in the evening. It’s pretty hard to reach a balance, paying attention to the special needs of each and every employee. Besides, even early risers naturally get tired by the end of the day.

2.  Changing the routine. This one can be especially challenging for people with children: for example, if a boss decides to shift a workday start to 8:00, they will need to adjust not only their schedule but their child’s as well. A child may not like this idea. And if the extra hour is from 17:00 to 18:00, parents may even need to find a nanny to take the child home. That's not always convenient.

3. Not suitable for all businesses. Smaller companies with fewer people may face difficulties implementing a 9/80 schedule. For example, if you’ve got a small ice cream café with a few people making and selling ice cream, you won’t be able to afford an extra day off – you simply won’t have enough people to fill in the staffing gap.  

4. Lack of overtime hours. Sometimes you may still need to work overtime, but if your employees work nine hours, it becomes physically and mentally challenging to handle.

Who is the 9/80 work schedule for?

A 9/80 work schedule is perfect for knowledge-based workforces like accountants, software developers, online tutors, graphic designers, and so on. Working four nine-hour days a week, they won't cause any harm to the business quality-wise.

However, there are industries where this alternative schedule would be not the best choice. Physically demanding work is not suited for extended workdays: for example, working on a construction site for an extra hour may lead to physical exhaustion and, consequently, health problems.

The same concerns manufacturing and logistics: having to drive for too long, or to stand at the assembly line, can cause accidents.

It can also be difficult to implement a 9/80 schedule in customer service teams. A necessity to continuously provide services for customers requires the presence of personnel, and an extra day off may cause friction and lead to a revenue decrease. This becomes especially challenging now when technologies make it possible to sell goods and services 24/7: a whole day off makes your potential customers give preference to your competitors. It also doesn’t work for small businesses that simply lack personnel, as we discuss above.

This way, a 9/80 schedule may not work for companies selling goods or providing services online, for bakeries, small cafes, local auto repairs, and so on.

However, if a day off means a loss in productivity, but you still have enough people on your team, there is an option. You could divide your personnel into two groups, splitting the day off, so that half the team would have Friday off, and the other half - Monday off. This will allow people to have a flexible schedule, giving them a chance to schedule appointments and do other things to enhance their work-life balance, and the business won't suffer.  

This way, considering shifting to a 9/80 work schedule, you as a business owner or a leader, must think if you’ve got enough human resources to afford a three-day weekend and if your business will not be affected by such a compressed work schedule.

How do companies run payroll for a 9/80 workweek?

A 9/80 approach makes sense only if you run a fortnightly payroll. A typical workweek covers forty work hours; in a 9/80 schedule, you work forty-four hours the first week, and thirty-six – the second week.  This is necessary to avoid counting four extra hours worked during the first week as overtime.

Running payroll for a 9/80 work schedule, you will have to remember the following:

  • If a person takes time off or sick leave, it will cost the company one extra hour per day. A holiday that falls on a nine-hour work day means that eight hours will count as a holiday and one hour – as a vacation.
  • If a person takes a day off on an eight-hour Friday and asks to work next Friday that is supposed to be off, this will inevitably result in overtime hours and, as a result, overtime pay.

To track work hours and not get lost because of a schedule change, you could use special time tracking software (like Runn) that would let you see how your employers manage their time. This will make the whole process easier and more clear.  

The benefits of a three-day weekend make people seek alternatives to traditional approaches, and a 9/80 is a perfect test schedule to try. This flexible work schedule allows employees to be more focused on their work, having more control over their personal lives at the same time.

Even though it has disadvantages and cannot be applied in some industries, this system can still be very effective if organized correctly. Yes, a nine-hour workday doesn’t seem attractive, but a typical eight-hour workday will not give you an opportunity to enjoy a long weekend either. So if you see this can be an option for your company, talk to your employees: probably, they are ready to try this work schedule.

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