Just about everyone is familiar with the standard 40-hour workweek, consisting of 5 x 8-hour workdays - but how familiar are you with another option: the 9/80 work schedule?
What is a 9/80 work schedule?
The definition of a 9/80 work schedule is quite simple: instead of working 10 x 8-hour days (i.e. 80 hours) over a two-week period, your staff will still work 80 hours over the same period, but now there are only 9 workdays instead of 10. That will enable you to give them a full day off every second week.
To achieve this your employees will be working eight 9-hour days plus a single 8-hour day during a two-week period. They will then get a day off at the end of the second workweek.
One way of doing this is to let your staff work 9 hours a day from Monday to Thursday during week one. On the Friday they only work 8 hours. During week two they will again work 9 hours a day from Monday to Thursday. That brings the total to 80 hours for the two weeks, so they can get the Friday off.
How does the 9/80 work schedule work in real life?
In essence, the 9/80 work schedule was developed to be a more compressed version of the standard 40-hour workweek. It gives your staff members an enhanced work-life balance, because they only work a 4-day workweek every second week. On the last workday of the second week they are free to do those things that all of us must do from time to time: visit the dentist or the doctor, see the bank manager, take the cat to the vet.
Some businesses would, for example, ask their employees to work from 7-12 and from 1-5 during the 9-hour workdays, and from 8-12 and 1-5 during the 8-hour workday at the end of the first week. Another option is to start later and finish later, e.g. 8-1 and 2-6 on the 9-hour workdays.
From a business point of view, there is no overtime payment despite the fact that the workers actually work 44 hours during week one. This is achieved by only recording the first 40 hours for payment purposes in the first week, and carrying over the extra 4 hours to the second week to make that total also 40 hours.
9/80 work schedule pros and cons
At first glance, it might appear that a 9/80 workweek will only benefit your workers, not the business. If you look a bit closer, however, you will start to realize that a 9/80 schedule could also hold major benefits for your business. Here’s why.
9/80 schedule pros
1. Improved work/life balance.
A 9/80 schedule provides your workers with two additional off days every month. This means they can conduct all their personal business, schedule appointments, or go on a long weekend with family and friends. For the business, it means fewer requests for off-time and fewer no-shows.
2. Not so many interruptions
Workers will have more time to attend to personal matters, so they will not have to interrupt work so often. That should improve productivity at no additional cost to the company.
3. Reduced commuting
The additional two days free every month will mean about a 10 percent drop in gas usage for your staff members. They will also put fewer miles on their vehicles and spend less time stuck in traffic.
4. Improvement in timely task completion
The additional hour of work every day means there is a better chance that workers will be completing tasks on the same day they start them.
5. Well-rested employees
The two additional work-free days every month will help to ensure that employees do not so easily feel overworked. It will reduce stress levels and help them to arrive at work more refreshed, and more likely to perform well at work.
6. Productivity boost
As soon as your employees start working on a 9/80 schedule, they will enjoy more control over their own work schedules. They will have more time to finish tasks on the same day, yet they will feel less overworked and stressed - because they know the next day off is around the corner. That should boost both morale and productivity.
7. More flexibility
A 9/80 work schedule does not necessarily mean that the workplace will be closed every second Friday. One option is to give some workers their day off on the Friday, and the other half on the next Monday. That means the business will remain open five days a week, every week.
9/80 schedule cons
Below are a few potential disadvantages of a 9/80 work schedule that you should consider before making a decision.
1. Longer workdays could make workers grumpy and less motivated
They might feel there’s no longer enough time to relax at home after work. This could negatively impact on morale and productivity.
2. Problems with implementing new working hours
Implementing a 9-hour workday will mean workers will either have to come in earlier or stay later. This could cause conflicts with their personal commitments and might also cause schedule conflicts at work.
3. Insufficient staff members on duty
Should you decide on split shifts to ensure the business stays open five days a week, there might not be enough employees on duty on the Friday/Monday when half the workers get their day off. This is particularly true in the case of smaller businesses.
4. Nobody home?
If you switch to a 9-hour workday your clients and suppliers might not necessarily be available during those hours. So your staff members might not be occupied productively.
5. A day off becomes more expensive
If a staff member who now works a 9-hour day takes a day off for sick leave or vacation, the company will lose 9 work hours instead of 8.
So where will a 9/80 work schedule work and where will it probably not work?
If you run a business where workers are to a very large extent interdependent, a 9/80 work schedule will probably not work for you. An example is a production line, where sending half of the workers home every second Friday/Monday can cause havoc.
If your employees are specialists, each to a large extent doing his or her own thing, it could work very well.
One option is to encourage staff members whose work allows a flexible schedule to adopt the 9/80 system, while the rest remain on a standard 40-hour workweek.
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