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Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms
A 9/80 work schedule is an alternative work schedule in which employees work for nine days in a two-week period instead of ten days on a traditional nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday schedule. A 9/80 schedule is usually split into eight nine-hour days followed by a single eight-hour day, which translates to an additional day off compared to a traditional schedule. This type of schedule is often called a “compressed” schedule because employees still work for a total of 80 hours while working fewer days.
Generally, the perceived benefits of a 9/80 work schedule are increased engagement and productivity via an improvement in work/life balance. In theory, offering employees an additional day off allows them more time to recover and take care of personal business, which in turn allows them to be more engaged and productive during work hours. A compressed schedule like the 9/80 work schedule is a way for employers to offer an additional day off without sacrificing hours on the clock. Alternative work schedules are also seen as an easy way to attract candidates seeking flexibility and a forward-thinking work environment.
The downsides to compressed work schedules are mainly the added complexity involved with maintaining a 40-hour pay week and the impact of working longer hours in a single day. The first issue is usually resolved by dividing the eight-hour day into two four-hour periods for payroll purposes, where the first four hours is applied to the current week, and the second four hours is technically the start of the second week.
The second issue—working longer hours—is not as easily resolved. Productivity decreases and safety concerns increase during non-daylight hours, and a longer workday tends to force employers to compensate via increased safety measures and an expectation of lost productivity, especially in winter months.
Survey research into alternative work schedules suggests that employees find the additional flexibility favorable, making alternative schedules a possible benefit to the employer brand, and that employees experience higher morale and job satisfaction compared to working a traditional schedule. Anecdotal reports, correlative theories, and qualitative research suggest alternative work schedules may be beneficial to productivity as well; however, quantitative proof of increased productivity is a bit more elusive.