- 87% of people want to work flexibly, but that doesn’t just mean working from home.
- A 9/80 work schedule, also known as a compressed work week, is another way to improve work/life balance.
- This guide explains how 9/80 works, the pros and cons, and whether it’s worth the extra time off.
Now more than ever, flexible work is in the limelight. And that’s no bad thing.
According to one study, 87% of people want to work flexibly. But that doesn’t necessarily mean working from home or working fewer hours.
It can also mean adopting a flexible work schedule, which allows employees to retain their salary and working hours while accruing regular time off.
This is known as a 9/80 work schedule.
In this article, we take a closer look at the 9/80 work schedule to understand the different compressed week formats available, the benefits and challenges, and how to get started.
What is a 9/80 Work Schedule?
Also known as a compressed work schedule, the 9/80 work schedule allows employees to take a day off every two weeks without using up their holiday allowance, and without reducing their work hours or salary.
Here’s how it works:
In a two-week period, employees work eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day, and then take the last day off. By adding an extra hour each day, employees recoup that time at the end of every two weeks as a day ‘off’.
When viewed over two weeks, a compressed work schedule still totals 80 hours, same as the standard nine-to-five. However, by working an extra hour every day for the first 8 days, people can then recoup that extra hour in the form of a day off at the end of the two-week period.
In short, employees could enjoy two long weekends for every full month worked.
How Flexible is a 9/80?
How the days are arranged depends on the employer and the employee. For instance, some people work 8am-5pm, while others prefer to stay later and work 9am-6pm.
There may also be some flexibility in how employees take their day off. Rather than taking a whole day off at the end of the two weeks, it could be a half day each week.
Is 9/80 Still Relevant?
In 2019, a report by SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management) found that approximately one-third of organizations were offering compressed workweeks.
However in 2020, huge swathes of the global workforce were sent to work from home. This introduced its own version of flexibility that many people, whether they were already working a compressed work schedule or not, wanted to achieve.
Long-term, many companies are now implementing new hybrid work schedules featuring a mix of home-based and in-office work. This could make the 9/80 schedule redundant if employers choose to implement alternative flexible work schemes.
However, so long as the standard 40-hour work week or nine-to-five prevails, the 9/80 schedule will still remain an option.
Pros and Cons of a 9/80 Work Schedule
Is a 9/80 schedule worth it?
That depends on whether employees can happily work 9-hour days consecutively. Some people find the extra hour tiring and therefore aren’t as productive, which may cause problems further down the line.
However, for employees who are eager to recoup the extra day and enjoy a longer weekend in favour of a longer working week, then a compressed work schedule could be ideal.
- Same salary for more flexibility: Flexibility is important. Some people value it so much, they would be willing to take a pay cut in order to spend more time at home. The main benefit of a compressed schedule is that employees can still work the same hours while benefiting from an extra day ‘off’ every other week.
- Better work/life balance: The 9/80 work pattern enables employees to gain better work/life balance by enjoying a longer weekend. Whether they choose to spend it with family, pursuing hobbies, or going away on a short break, it can potentially help reduce work-related stress and keep burnout at bay, which promotes overall health and wellness.
- Maximise the holiday allowance: Employees can make the most of the extra day by adding it onto their holiday plans. That way, they can enjoy an extra day by using it to travel or simply for pre-holiday preparations.
- Potentially tiring: Some people find working an extra hour for eight consecutive days tiring. This can lead to a loss of productivity, which could become a problem later on. Those who are unable to adjust may find that their employer questions the viability of offering a 9/80 schedule.
- Disrupts working pattern: As with any shift work, there is a certain amount of disruption to the working week. Colleagues, customers or other contacts who work ‘regular’ weeks and expect 9/80 employees to be available during normal business hours may find the different working pattern confusing.
- Rigid working weeks may become redundant: Given the rapid shift to home-based and flexible work during the coronavirus crisis, many companies have been forced to adjust to flexible working patterns – and many expect to stick to them permanently. Will the 9/80 still be relevant post-pandemic? It could become redundant in favour of other flexible work structures.
For employers, there are clear benefits of offering a compressed work schedule. Employees enjoy greater flexibility and time off, which equates to a happier and more productive workforce.
However, it can be a logistical challenge, especially for people working remotely. Clarity is essential, and employers will need to effectively track their employees’ hours and ensure they do not work overtime or mix up their days.
There are also potential implications on workspace. If every other week is a four-day work week, that means the real estate requirement for each employee working a compressed schedule will immediately drop by 20% on their four-day weeks. While the company might save on resources like water and electricity, it will still pay for empty real estate.
Suggested Reading: Can CRE Survive the Four Day Work Week?
Of course, rather than giving everyone on a compressed schedule the same day ‘off’, employers could offer different days to different people. That way, the empty space is spread across the entire week, which might enable the business to negotiate a reduction in their workspace.
But be aware that a Friday could be the most popular day off as people would want to enjoy a longer weekend. To be fair to everyone, employers may need to rotate schedules, which could become a logistical challenge.
First, talk about it. As an employer, explain the process and gain an understanding of who wants to work a compressed week. It’s also important to lay out the rules – for instance, employees should be discouraged from constantly switching their day off, as this can cause scheduling conflicts and become difficult to manage.
Look into local employment regulations to ensure there is no risk of paying overtime, and speak to an HR advisor for clarification. Employers should also use a time-tracking and scheduling tool to prevent mistakes or overlap.
Consider running a trial period for a couple of months. That way, everyone has the chance to try the new scheduling process and employers can monitor performance along the way.
Flexibility is integral to the future of work, and by offering employees the opportunity to work more flexibly and enjoy greater work/life balance, business owners are more likely to create a happier and more engaged team that values their role and gives back with productivity and loyalty.