9/80 Work Schedule: Definition, Pros and Cons

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When Henry Ford popularized the traditional 40-hour workweek, it was a great improvement for workers of the time. Working 8-hour shifts, five days a week, ensured he could operate his company around the clock without causing workers to tire out so much.

Through WWII, other companies were quick to adopt this schedule. Most workers worked in manufacturing at the time and this schedule was perfect for productivity and brought on less adversity from workers.

That, however, was over a hundred years ago.

Today's workplaces have diversified in purpose and fewer people are required in jobs that must adhere to this traditional schedule. When Covid forced workers and business owners to come up with alternatives to work schedules, it became clear that the world can function fine without having everyone fill their seat at work from 9-5, five days a week.

Not only are people looking for more versatility in their work schedule today, but they are also demanding it.

One alternative that is gaining popularity is the 9/80 work schedule.

In this article, we'll define the 9/80 work schedule, then provide a step-by-step plan on how to implement it and review the pros/cons to help you decide if it's worth trying in your organization.

Let's get to it.

What is the 9/80 Work Schedule?

Working the 9/80 work schedule will see you working 80 hours over a two-week period. These hours will be divided up into four days of nine hours and one of eight hours on the first week. The second week will consist of four, nine-hour days. You will then get the fifth day off.

Working this schedule, an employee will end up with a three-day weekend twice a month. There is also one month every year when most employees will see a month where they get three, three-day weekends.

In total, workers receive 26 three-day weekends a year without having to give up their pay, vacations, benefits or other perks they now enjoy as full-time employees

It is easier to picture this concept with an example schedule.

What Does the 9/80 Schedule Look Like?

Week One (44 hours)

Monday – Thursday 8-12 then 1-6 (9 hours daily)
Friday – 8-12 then 1-5 (8 hours)
Saturday/Sunday Off

Week Two (36 hours)

Monday -Thursday 8-12 then 1-6
Friday, Saturday, Sunday off

*This sample is based on having a one-hour unpaid lunch break.

You will notice that you would be working more than 40 hours the first week, but only 36 in the second. This is one of the reasons a two-week pay period is better suited for this schedule. We will discuss the payroll aspects of this in a bit. For now, let's take a look at the pros and cons of this work schedule.

Pros of the 9/80 Work Schedule

1. It can lead to greater productivity.

Employees who have control over their schedules have been shown to improve 70 percent and the quality of their work has improved sixty percent. People who have a three-day weekend in sight have something positive to work toward. In addition, the extra hour each day allows many projects to be completed that do not have to be carried over into the next day. Many people find it easy to add an extra hour to their day if it translates into an extra day off in the end. As they feel more productive, they become more productive.

2. It may help recruit higher-quality job candidates.

Having a flexible schedule will appear to appeal to many job candidates.

Having a 9/80 work schedule in place may draw higher-qualified workers and will help you get an edge over the competition.

Having a more modern scheduling system also shows you as a company that is more willing to grow with the times. This is another factor that appeals to those seeking a career that they can grow with.

3. Flexible enough so all time periods are covered.

The sample schedule shows having every other Friday off, but this schedule is flexible enough that half the employees could take Monday off instead and still get that three-day weekend.

You may also have employees who prefer that extra day off in the middle of the week, which further makes covering hours easier.

Another plus is that the schedule can be adapted to start an hour earlier each day. You can add that extra hour to when you are available to customers. If half the staff does the early morning, you end up with two extra hours a day so that you can meet the client's needs.

4. Reduces high-traffic driving.

Whether employees are coming in an hour early or leaving an hour late, they are more likely to avoid the normal rush hour traffic. This leads to less stress and fewer stops during the commute. When employees don't arrive at work already stressed, they have the chance to focus on their tasks easier right from the start of the day.

5. It gives workers more time for necessary life activities.

With the traditional 9-5 schedule, employees often have difficulty scheduling regular doctor appointments, setting up meetings with schools, and doing other business chores that require being available during the same hours they are working. With an alternate schedule, the employee can schedule these things for their day off.

They can also do things like shopping that are now being done on the weekends at a time when kids are in school. This allows them more family time on the weekends. All of this can benefit the employer, who doesn't have to deal with as many people calling off to meet these types of obligations.

Cons of the 9/80 Work Schedule

1. It doesn't work with every business.

Businesses that are based on individual contributions by workers can flourish with this type of work schedule. In environments where everyone is inter-dependent upon each other, however, need to be fully staffed at all times, and having half the workers off one day will hinder productivity. Business consultants, artists, software developers, video editors, and other occupations like these are good to go. Retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and construction may all suffer from times of short staffing. 

2. It may create staff shortages in cases of illness.

Regardless of the type of schedule you implement, employees are going to get ill or have family emergencies. When this happens on a day when many of the workers are already off, an issue can result. This type of schedule helps eliminate many call-offs for personal days, but people can't control illness and other emergencies. You will need to make sure a backup plan is in place just in case.

3. It may create health issues.

Some workers may not be able to handle an extra hour a day four days a week. Sitting or standing an extra hour can create physical problems for some. For workers who live in colder regions, the fact that they will be coming to work and heading home always in the dark can create mental health issues as well as physical ones as we need some sun exposure daily. You may be able to create a room with some exercise equipment and a sunlight lamp for employees to enjoy during their lunch hour.

4. Less family time daily or interference with family schedules.

During times when a worker is working long days, they may find that they have to leave earlier, so this can create more stress as mornings are rushed.

This may require them to create a new routine. They may also find themselves coming home, eating dinner, and then going to bed. This can reduce family time at night.

For others, childcare issues may arise. For many, the three-day weekends that allow for longer day trips may help reduce the lack of family activities in the evening. For those with children, there may be a problem. This is especially true for single parents.

5. Payroll issues may arise.

It is essential that any company thinking of implementing this schedule check with an employment attorney to find out what the laws are in the state you are operating in. While the two-week format can help eliminate overtime issues, this may not always be the case. In addition, holidays, vacations, and other unplanned time off will need to be addressed.

Do they occur on an 8-hour day or a 9-hour day? Pay will depend on this. The pay period will also need to be adjusted so that the first Friday of the period has the pay week ending at noon and the second week beginning at noon. Once the payroll is worked out, it will be necessary to have someone who can deal with inconsistencies well in charge.

How to Implement a 9/80 Work Schedule

If you think this work schedule sounds interesting, here are the first steps to take in putting it in place.

1. Evaluate your company's needs regarding coverage.

If you need a full staff at all times, you may need to stick to a traditional schedule. This is also true if the vendors and clients you deal with are working those hours. You need to make sure you are available when your business can be active with the world.

2. Talk with employees for their input.

Maybe your employees will jump at this chance but that isn't always a guarantee. You will need to talk with employees and explain what you are hoping to accomplish with this change. You will have to explain that they will need to be careful in regards to not causing overtime issues or calling off regularly, putting other workers at a disadvantage. If necessary, you could have only some of the employees follow the new schedule at first. Over time, others may decide to get on board.

3. Do a trial run.

Before putting the plan into permanent action, try doing a trial run for a few pay periods. This way, you can work out any issues and readjust as necessary.

Final Thoughts on the 9/80 Work Schedule

Much has changed across the workplace landscape these last two years. People are taking more time to stop and smell the roses, and working from home played a big part in that.

While many employees are being asked or invited to return to their offices, that feeling of what matters most is not forgotten and will affect their decisions.  As more and more people are seeking ways to make their home lives more meaningful, and not focus solely on working, we are apt to see this work schedule and many others that are similar become the norm.

If you’re still trying to figure things out, you’re not alone. Check out our article on how you can develop a better work-life balance today.

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