9/80 Work Schedule: All the Pros and Cons

Andrew Buck December 16, 2021

For today’s workforce, flexible working schedules are in vogue.

A 9/80 work schedule is one such way that employees of forward-thinking companies are starting to enjoy greater freedom and flexibility with how they approach the work week.

Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics are a few examples of companies that offer their employees the option to work a 9/80 schedule. 

This type of work schedule allows employees more freedom, in the form of an extra day off every two weeks, without taking away from the total number of hours worked.

It can be an effective way for companies to test the waters of greater schedule flexibility, without making massive changes to the way the business operates.

Read on to learn more about the 9/80 work schedule, and all the pros and cons for companies considering making this switch.

Further Reading: 5 Benefits of Flexible Work Schedules

What is a 9/80 Work Schedule?

With a 9/80 work schedule, employees work a total of 80 hours in a two week period, but they do it in nine days, instead of the usual ten. 

This is done by adding one hour to the work day for eight of these days, which makes up for the one additional day off in the second week.

So, instead of working an eight hour workday, Monday to Friday, a person works eight nine hour days, one eight hour shift, and gets a three-day weekend every second week (and a regular two-day weekend the other day).

Here’s how this two week schedule might look:

Week 1

Week 2

In the two week pay period, this gives a total of nine working days, five days off, and 80 hours worked, where a traditional schedule would feature ten working days, four days off, and the same total number of hours.

For a small payoff of an extra hour worked, four days a week, employees get an extra day off to spend with their family or to take care of personal business.

Related: Can a 4 Day Work Week Fit Your Business?

9/80 Work Schedule Examples

The 9/80 work schedule doesn’t always have to be the example above, with one Friday off every other week.

The idea is simply to spread 80 working hours over nine working days in a two week period. So there’s some flexibility with how this can be done.

1- Every Other Friday Off

Just as the example above goes – every second Friday is off, giving employees a three day weekend that week.

Each week has four nine hour days, while Friday is alternatively a day off one week, and an eight hour day the other.

2- Every Other Monday Off

Along the same lines of eight nine hour days and one eight hour day, with one additional day off, just this example gives Monday off each week, a welcome respite from the Monday blues.

3- Flexible Day Off

Companies could also give employees the freedom to pick and choose their scheduled day off. Each individual may prefer a Friday-Sunday long weekend or a Saturday-Monday weekend. Alternatively, some people may work better with a day off midweek to break the week up.

4- Half Day Off Each Week

A slight variation, as it’s not exactly a 9/80 work schedule (since there are ten work days), but the work week could also be structured to give employees half a day off each Friday (or Monday, or in effect any other day).

For example, Monday to Thursday are nine hours each, and then the eight hour day is split into two four hour periods.

So Friday may be just 9-1 each week, rather than a full day off in the second workweek.

Pros and Cons of a 9/80 Work Schedule

A 9/80 work schedule offers a unique set of benefits, but also some difficulties in its implementation.

The added flexibility and freedom employees get with a 9/80 work schedule can result in greater levels of happiness and lower stress levels, and fewer of the problems (such as absenteeism and burnout) that come along with stress.

A flexible work schedule can also be an attractive benefit to job seekers, thus helping a business hire and retain top talent.

A 9/80 work schedule may not be a great fit for every business, however, and presents some issues for HR that may be too much of a hassle.

Let’s dive deeper with the top pros and cons of adopting a 9/80 work schedule.

Pro: Employee Wellness & Morale

The biggest plus of a 9/80 work schedule is allowing employees an extra day off every two weeks, which is a huge benefit for their happiness and overall wellness.

The additional day off – which adds up to more than 20 extra days off per year – gives more flexibility for team members to spend time with family, handle personal commitments, or simply relax and recharge.

This allows a better work/life balance, which invariably results in lower stress and greater job satisfaction.

Pro: Improved Productivity

As is the case for Microsoft Japan, flexible work schedules (a four day work week in this case) can have a significant positive effect on productivity.

It boils down to staff being happier, less stressed, and more focused at work. If their work/life balance is in line, employees are more likely to be dialed in at work – producing more, and of a higher quality.

Further Reading: the difference between Productivity vs Efficiency, and which is most important in a business.

Pro: Lower Absenteeism

Lower stress is going to deliver a huge number of additional benefits, including lower rates of absenteeism.

Staff calling in sick or not showing up to work is often a cause of stress, overwork and burnout. And the cost of missing employees and lost productivity is not one to take lightly.

Allowing employees the extra time off – in addition to to regular paid time off, which is vital as well – means they’re less likely to get to the stage where the work is too much, and starts resulting in health complications.

There’s always that carrot of a three-day weekend around the corner, which can be a huge mental boost in the second workweek, when team members’ energy generally starts to lag.

Pro: Attracting Top Talent

More benefits and a more attractive workplace makes it easier to encourage the most talented job seekers to come to your company.

Once upon a time, the pressure was on the individual to show they have what it takes for a company to hire them. Today, however, we’re moving towards a climate where job seekers have the power.

The most talented and driven people out there generally have their pick of job offers. They’re going to choose those that offer the best benefits, such as flexible work schedules and ample paid time off, leaving more conservative companies struggling to make an impact in the job market.

Further Reading: A Complete List of the Most Valued Employee Benefits

Con: Longer Days

Moving to the potential downsides, a company may find a 9/80 work schedule is harder on team members, with the longer workdays involved.

It may be harder to maintain focus over nine hours, as opposed to eight hours, which could end up hurting productivity.

This is not a given, however, so it’s something each business will want to assess for themselves. It’s entirely possible that a nine hour day presents no major difference to team members than an eight hour day, in which case it may be hard to argue against.

Con: HR Complications

HR and payroll may be more difficult to manage with a 9/80 work schedule, due to the unbalanced nature of working hours each week.

If payroll works on a weekly basis, changes may need to be made to accommodate the unbalanced schedule. HR/payroll will also want to take care to ensure that the extra hours in the first week don’t become overtime hours, and have to be paid out at a higher rate.

It can also introduce problems with sick time or paid time off, if time off is calculated on an hourly basis, due to some days having longer working hours than others.

Con: Not a Fit for Every Business

An alternative work schedule may not suit every company the same. For some, it may disrupt workflow, and the additional hour worked one some days may not make up for employees being off one whole day more.

It’s obviously not a fit for service businesses or businesses that fall outside the traditional 40 hour, five day work week model, as well.

Consider the impact on dealing with clients or customers or any other workflow issues that may result in making such a change.

Things to Consider with a 9/80 Work Schedule

Alternative work schedules can deliver huge benefits, but generally they also require more management to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Here’s what companies need to consider before switching to a 9/80 work schedule.

Payroll

First, make sure it’s clear how payroll is going to work after making this change.

You don’t want to be stuck paying overtime wages, or creating a huge amount of additional work just by trying to balance payroll with an unbalanced schedule.

Companies that pay based on monthly or two week pay periods are best suited, as there may be no significant changes necessary. But either way, put the thought into how this will affect how team members get paid.

Labor Laws

Employees working over 40 hour work weeks may cause issues with certain labor laws. In some areas, for example, it may be mandated that certain benefits (like overtime) be paid to employees working more than 40 hours a week.

Wherever your business is located, check with an employment lawyer to make sure no problems are going to arise when you make a change.

Time Off Policy

Does the new work schedule change anything in regards to your company’s leave policy? For example, does anything change if someone takes sick leave or a vacation day on an eight hour day, as opposed to a nine hour day?

How are people compensated for sick leave for a shorter day, or for example, if they take leave in the first week, as opposed to the shorter second week?

Related: A Complete Guide to Leave Management for Remote or Flexible Teams

Alternative Flexible Work Schedules

If a 9/80 work schedule seems like it fits the bill, think a little bigger. Does it make sense to adopt an even more flexible work schedule?

Perhaps even more benefits can be had by moving to a fully flexible work schedule, or perhaps a hybrid or remote work model.

It may even make sense to ditch the hour-based productivity model altogether, and let employees work as little or as much as they wish, as long as the right performance indicators are hit.

It’s a big departure from the traditional workplace model, but in the years to come, the businesses that flourish will be those who adopt forward-thinking models and value employees’ health, happiness and flexibility.

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