A business’s ability to meet its strategic goals is almost wholly dependent on its employees. Happy employees are motivated employees, and motivated employees are productive employees. Work-life balance is one of the factors that significantly impact employee motivation. Employers need to be aware of the options available to them when setting work schedules. This guide will introduce the 9/80 schedule and analyze its pros and cons to help you determine if it could work for your business.

What is the 9/80 Work Schedule?

The typical American workday starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 5:00 PM with a one-hour lunch break. This comes to eight working hours every day. As such, the typical workweek has 40 hours – 8 hours daily, five days a week (usually Monday to Friday).

The 9/80 schedule seeks to preserve the 40-hour workweek while creating an additional off day every two weeks. Instead of having 10 working days every two weeks, it proposes 9 working days every two weeks. This additional day is ‘created’ by adding an extra hour for 8 of these days. This results in 8 workdays lasting 9 hours and 1 workday lasting 8 hours.

To split this into two 40-hour workweeks, we start with four 9-hour days, followed by the 8-hour day, which is then followed by four more 9-hour days. The 8-hour day is split into two 4-hour periods.

The first workweek includes the initial four 9-hour workdays plus the 4 hours that make up the first half of the 8-hour workday. The second week begins with the 4 hours making up the second half of the 8-hour workday and the following four 9-hour workdays.
The trade-off is having longer workdays in return for the extra day off every two weeks.

Pros: What are the Benefits of the 9/80 Schedule?

Reduced Commute

The extra off day means that employees have one less commute every two weeks. This reduces the overall carbon footprint associated with the business. In a global market that is becoming increasingly eco-aware, any green measures can boost a business’s reputation. Resulting in attracting more environmentally aware clients.

Increased Productivity

That extra off day is the biggest selling point for the 9/80 schedule. A whole day off is more impactful to an employee’s work-life balance than the hour lost over the 8 days. That extra day represents a meaningful time for someone to socialize, spend time with their family, engage in their hobbies, or just relax. This can increase employee morale.

The positive link between employee morale and productivity has been established by countless scientific studies. Therefore, improving morale through better work-life balance should see employees increase their output over the adjusted 40-hour workweek.

Better Customer Satisfaction

Many factors influence customer satisfaction. Key among these include service quality and their interactions with your staff. Service quality is a direct function of employee performance, as is the quality of their interaction with employees. Employee motivation and happiness have a direct impact on customer satisfaction.

Satisfied customers are not only more likely to become loyal clients, but they also serve as your unofficial brand ambassadors. They will market your brand and products within their spheres of influence, leading to more customers.

Fewer workday interruptions

Every person has errands and appointments that need to be resolved on weekdays. These include bank errands, school meetings, and appointments at government offices. For the most part, employees must get a few hours off to meet these commitments which cannot be attended to during the weekend.

With the 9/80 schedule, these interruptions will become fewer and fewer. Employees can now schedule these commitments on their extra off days. Fewer work interruptions mean better organizational productivity and profitability.

Desirable Employer Status

The modern employee places more emphasis on work-life balance than remuneration. Having the 9/80 schedule shows potential hires that you are a progressive and innovative workplace.

Cons: What are the Challenges of the 9/80 Schedule?

Inadvertent overtime costs

Many employees immediately qualify for overtime pay if they work for more than 40 hours every week. To facilitate the extra off day, the 9/80 schedule presents a complicated workweek that ends in the middle of a workday, with the second week beginning in the second half of the 8-hour workday. If not properly logged, this can create a payroll nightmare where workers qualify for overtime due to their hours mostly falling within one of the weeks.

Understaffing challenges

Ideally, a business should stagger the employee’s workweek to ensure that when some get the extra off-day, others are on-duty keeping the company operational. This can be a challenge for smaller companies that have one-person departments that can function when a particular employee is not on duty.

Resistance to change

Some employees are used to the traditional 8-5 workday and have structured the rest of their lives on this schedule. Requiring them to add an hour to most of their workdays could mess up their home, social, and family lives. They would be resistant to any changes.


Improving work-life balance is one of the most effective ways to boost employee morale. This has been shown to improve organizational productivity, improve customer experience, and attract potential hires. The 9/80 schedule reduces the organization’s carbon footprint and results in fewer workday interruptions. Any business that can mitigate the administrative and workforce challenges of implementing the 9/80 schedule should do so to enjoy the benefits it brings.

Greg Tuohy is the managing director of Docutec, a managed print service and business printers company based in Ireland.

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