If you’re tired of putting in an eight-hour shift, five days per week, then an alternative schedule may provide you with a better work/life balance. One such option that is growing in popularity is called the 9/80 work schedule.
Under the 9/80 schedule, you are working over a two-week period instead of taking time week by week. You would work nine hours per day on Monday through Thursday, then either work an eight-hour schedule on Friday or have the day off. By working the extra hour four days out of each week, you earn an extra day off every other week.
For this model to work properly, the flex day offered to employees must be fixed. Although changes may be permitted to accommodate vacations or emergencies, the structure makes it possible to have everyone in the office working full-time without the need to pay overtime under current U.S. labor laws.
If you’re thinking about implementing or requesting an idea like this one, then it is essential to review the pros and cons of the 9/80 work schedule to see if it is right for you.
List of the Pros of the 9/80 Work Schedule
1. Workers are able to achieve a better work/life balance.
Because you’re receiving two extra days off during the month, it is easier to schedule the necessary appointments of life into your routine without using your sick days or vacation. You can get yourself or your kids to their medical appointments on this extra day off. There is the option to take short mini-vacations because you have an extended weekend. Some people spend the day volunteering in their community. Because there is more balance, people are less likely to experience burnout.
2. It can improve the commute to work.
If you’re transitioning to a 9/80 work schedule from something that is traditional, then you’re moving one of your commuting windows to a non-standard time. That means fewer issues with traffic most days, so you spend less time in the car coming to and from work. You might even split the schedule to have workers come in 30 minutes earlier, then leave 30 minutes later, to avoid the crunch of traffic. Although workers lose an extra hour of home time four days per week, some of that time can be made up with the switch in traffic patterns.
3. Some workers might only need to add 30 minutes to their day.
If you work for a company which requires an unpaid lunch break during the day, there is the possibility that you could switch to a 9/80 schedule by adding just 30 minutes to your day. When your lunch break is an hour that is unpaid, you could speak to your supervisor about cutting that time down to 30 minutes. Then you could come in 30 minutes early or stay late that long for the four extended days to create the added time for the extra day off twice per month.
4. The day off during the 9/80 schedule is flexible for each worker.
Although the 9/80 schedule works best when each worker has an assigned day off, there is some flexibility in choosing which day is taken. If some workers want to take every other Wednesday off instead of having a 3-day weekend, then you can make that happen. The only requirement is that in the two-week scheduling, eight of the nine contact days for the employee must be 9 hours in length.
5. You still get the coverage needed for each shift.
Because there is some flexibility in the days being assigned to workers, you can give some people a 3-day weekend by giving them Friday off. Another group can receive the same weekend by getting Monday off. You can alternate weeks for your teams as well, giving half the team their day off each week to limit staffing outages. With that kind of flex time, you create more of an environment where people can come and go as needed.
6. There are no federal guidelines covering flexible work schedules.
The Fair Labor Standards Act in the United States does not address the issue of a flexible work schedule. That means a compressed or flex schedule like the 9/80 work week is permitted at the discretion of each employer. The only guidance issued comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, which states that an employee must work a specific number of hours for each pay period, being present in some way during a “core” time each day.
7. More recruitment opportunities are available with the 9/80 work schedule.
Offering flexible schedules helps a company look more attractive to prospective workers. Millennials might be “famous” for their desire for added flexibility, but it is an option which benefits anyone who needs some help in life by not being tied to their desk for a specific time every day. For many of today’s best employees, the chance to maintain a good work/life balance is the leading factor when deciding on a new job opportunity.
8. The change in schedule might lead to increased productivity.
When people have more control over their working schedule, it energizes them. Cisco Systems implemented flex scheduling and alternative work schedules and saw 75% of their workers improve in their timeliness. Two out of three Cisco workers reported that their work quality improved. 69% reported increased productivity. Even with the extra hour of the day being a drain on personal energy levels, a little flexibility in coming in early or staying late can help people be at their best.
9. It helps the environment.
When you’re able to take vehicles off the road for two extra days during the month, then you are helping the environment in some small ways. You’re also giving workers a small financial boost without changing their pay. They have two fewer commuting days each month, which means less fuel is used. Fewer greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere. There may be two fewer days of childcare that require payment. Even with some of the disadvantages that are possible, having a little extra money around each month is always a good thing.
List of the Cons of the 9/80 Work Schedule
1. An extra hour at work each day is not always helpful.
If you’re working the 9/80 work schedule, then you are taking another hour away from your home life during four weekdays. Although that might be helpful to some workers, it is not helpful to others. The schedule changes could make it difficult for parents to take their kids to school or pick them up on time. There could be less energy to make dinner, changes in traffic that make the commute slower, and other issues that may create additional disruptions instead of fewer.
2. The last hour of a long day is always the least productive.
Employees start strong in the morning. Many barely make it to the finish line with their productivity. When you add another hour to the work day, there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll receive the same amount of work. You could find that switching to a 9/80 schedule encourages less productivity since workers will be at the office more often when their energy levels are at their lowest. Salaried workers might find themselves forced to work on their day off to stay caught up, which negates the benefits of the compressed schedule in the first place.
3. It creates short evenings for each worker four days per week.
The trade you make by adding an hour to your work day is that you’ll have less evening time during the four extended days. Losing the hour at home means you could find yourself having dinner, relaxing a little bit, and then start getting ready for bed to repeat the process each day. That leaves less time for after-school activities, extracurricular programs, and hobbies or social activities which are important to you.
4. Your schedule might not mesh with the rest of your industry.
Although the 9/80 work schedule works well in theory, from a business perspective, it could cause some trouble. Your clients or customers might not be available during that extra hour of up time, which could limit the productivity opportunities available to workers. This schedule works best when there are administrative duties to fulfill, general labor to complete, or internal tasks which could use some attention.
5. It doesn’t always count the lunch break.
If your employer doesn’t offer a paid lunch break, then an 8-hour shift becomes a 9-hour shift if you take a full hour in the middle of the day. In this situation, moving to the 9/80 work schedule would mean that you’re at work for 10 hours each day. If you’re used to working an 8am to 5pm schedule, you might go in at 7am or leave at 6pm those four extended days of the week. Some people are able to adapt to that schedule without much of a problem, but it can be problematic for others staying at work for that long.
6. Small companies may experience gaps in coverage.
If you work for a small business, moving to a 9/80 schedule might not be possible because of coverage issues. It can affect the company’s competitive profile, which may impact the budget, management responsibilities, and customer interactions. Some businesses decide to shut down for the day to accommodate this type of schedule for their workers, but it isn’t something that every company can do if they want to stay in business.
7. The 9/80 work schedule leads to a quieter office.
When you work at a company which offers flexible scheduling, the office becomes very quiet outside of the core hours where people need to come together. If you’re energized by an office environment that is noisy and bustling, then the 9/80 schedule might feel like a waste of time. This issue becomes even worse if some workers can telecommute as part of their alternative working arrangements. With fewer people around, there may not be as many collaboration opportunities, which could lead to communication issues down the road.
8. Some workers will always take advantage of the situation.
When the office is quiet, and no one is around, it may be tempting for some workers to slack off during the extra hour they’re supposed to be working. If no one is there to supervise, they might watch Netflix on their phone, conduct personal business, or play games instead of fulfilling their responsibilities. Home-based workers on the 9/80 schedule might be watching HBO instead of working, even though they’re logged into their work account. Flexible schedules requires an employer to trust their workers, and there are always a few people who take advantage of that situation.
The pros and cons of the 9/80 work schedule depend on personal needs. For some workers, this compressed schedule gives them energy because they have two extra days off to look forward to using each month. Others feel their morale drop because they’re either forced to use the extra day to catch up on work or the extended time takes them away from their family.
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