Everything You Need to Know About a 9/80 Work Schedule

We all know the most familiar work schedule of 9-5. Working an eight-hour shift, five days a week, for 40 hours is something of a corporate and cultural monolith. And of course, our hero Dolly Parton made it famous more than 40 years ago. 

But it’s not the only work schedule for employees. In fact, many small businesses are opting for a different approach to the work week by trying out a 9/80 work schedule. 

A 9/80 work schedule may have longer hours, but those who are working within it can enjoy more overall balance. Ahead, we’ll unpack what the 9/80 work schedule is, how to schedule it, some of the benefits and challenges involved, along with legal labor considerations, and how Homebase can help make scheduling for it easier on your small business. 

What is a 9/80 work schedule?

A 9/80 work schedule is when shifts are divided into 80 hours over nine working days. That means employees get an extra two days off a month that allows for longer weekends.

How does a 9/80 work schedule work?

For the most part, a 9/80 work schedule is intended as nine hour shifts over a two week period for a total of 80 hours worked.

A typical 9/80 schedule can look like 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for five days the first week, and then 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. the following four days with an additional day off. Some schedules may split a shift so that employees work a half day instead.

Here’s a full sample schedule below. 

Week one:

  • Monday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 
  • Tuesday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: no work 

Week two:

  • Monday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Thursday: 8 a.m to noon; one hour lunch break; 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: no work

These schedules, of course, can be amended and created depending on your small business’s needs. For example, if you’re a café that needs coverage early in the morning, a 9/80 schedule may have your employees starting at 5.a.m or 6 a.m.. Then, they work until 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. In some cases, employees may work a half day on both Fridays, rather than have a complete Friday off during the second week. 

This schedule also doesn’t need to run Monday to Friday like traditional schedules. As long as it’s over a two week period—paying particular attention to how this impacts payroll—you can schedule 9/80 shifts however you need for coverage

What are the benefits of a 9/80 schedule?

It may look like a lot at first glance, but the 9/80 work schedule can actually be a very worthwhile investment. There are a number of benefits for both employees and employees. 

Increased productivity 

If you’ve ever got really in the groove of a task at work, only to realize it’s quitting time when you’re thisclose to finishing it, it’s a bit of a bummer. All you need is one extra hour! A 9/80 schedule is a great solution for that.

In other, traditional work schedules, employees taking an extra hour to finish out a task may end up in overtime hours. And since those hours are more expensive for you, it’s often not ideal for the business. Instead, with a flexible 9/80 work schedule, employees are encouraged to keep up or increase their productivity, knowing they’ve got the time. Tasks can be divided up more appropriately for completion during the work day, and there’s the added benefit of a longer weekend on the horizon twice a month. That long weekend is a huge incentive for employees to make the most out of their work time. 

Longer weekends more frequently

There’s honestly nothing better than a long weekend. When you’re an employee and you know there’s an extra day that week just for you, it makes working hours that much sweeter and easier to enjoy. 

With a 9/80 schedule, employees are guaranteed an extra day off every two weeks.

Less commuting

No matter how your employees get to work—car, bike or public transit—there’s something nice about not having to sit in traffic and endure the commute. 

Commuting is necessary in our very busy work lives, but any chance to take a day away from the traffic, noise, and pollution is a good one in our books. 

Stronger emphasis on work/life balance

With a 9/80 work week schedule, employees are given the opportunity to complete any necessary life-related tasks, appointments, or even tend to their hobbies. Whether it’s a dentist appointment on their Friday off, or joining their kid on a field trip, they’ve now got an extra day to do it instead of taking paid time off.

Flexibility 

For employers needing coverage, there’s a benefit to the 9/80 work schedule. Since not everyone needs to be on the same 9/80 schedule, you can have rotating days off. Suddenly not every employee is begging for that same Saturday off work.

A 9/80 schedule allows employers and employees to build out a schedule that works for the business and its workers. 

Higher task completion

It’s a given that with more hours in a day to do your job, there’s a likelier chance your employees will be able to finish the tasks you assign them. This is good to keep in mind if you’re leaning toward the 9/80 schedule. Think carefully about how you’re going to delegate tasks and assignments per shift.  

What are the challenges of a 9/80 schedule?

Like everything else in life, with benefits come some challenges. There are a lot of great aspects and benefits to a 9/80 work schedule, but there are challenges that, as an employer, you definitely need to be made aware of in order to assuage them accordingly. 

Longer work day 

Working for nine hours can take a toll on folks who aren’t used to it. So can shift work. If you’re thinking about implementing a 9/80 work day, it’s beneficial for employers to take a look at this challenge first. See where adjustments can be made for optimized breaks, trying out different tasks so it doesn’t exhaust or tire out employees. 

Longer work days can wear down morale if employees feel they only have time to be at work and not enough time at home. 

Staffing gap

Small businesses of different sizes and industries need shift coverage. It depends on what your business does and its specific needs, but, at the end of the day, you need people there to make sure it runs smoothly. 

A 9/80 schedule can cause a staffing gap for businesses that are too small or have too few employees. Staggered schedules may not be available for the business, or wear down on employees who want to take a Monday off instead of a Friday, but are unable to. 

Time off and sick day challenges

Along with staffing gaps, there’s the added challenge of employee time off and sick days. How is a sick day in the middle of a 9/80 work schedule going to impact your business and other employees?

Early start times and late end times 

A 9/80 schedule does take up most of the work day, leaving not a lot of time for employees after hours. Depending on the commute, employees may spend up to 10 to 12 hours in a work mindset—from travel time to and from to the actual work day. This can take a toll on employee morale, and cause issues at work

Overtime challenges 

If task management and delegation isn’t handled well, your employees may end up starting a new task late in the day and complete it well after their scheduled shift end time. This may result in your figuring out of overtime hours. It may also lead to uncomfortable conversations about the realities of what your employees are doing, if they’re trying to earn more by working past their scheduled shifts.

It’s not all nefarious but overtime can be a challenge for employees on a 9/80 schedule. 

Inability to focus 

A lack of focus on work goes hand-in-hand with adjusting to a longer work schedule. Not all hours of a shift pass by with ease. If your employee is bored three hours in and they’ve still got six to go, that could be a problem.

What kinds of companies can benefit from a 9/80 schedule?

Not every industry is going to thrive in a 9/80 scheduling environment. But: there are definitely many that could make the switch from the same ol’ 9-5. 

Retail 

Retail is the easiest to accommodate 9/80 shifts. For any full-time staff your business relies on for daytime or prolonged coverage, this is ideal.

Customer service representatives

Many customer service representative roles and call centers need to have staggered shifts to cover not only volume of calls, but timezones. In many cases, these roles have become remote. That means a 9/80 may actually be ideal. Suddenly a business can maximize the number of calls for an agent without delays that come from employees starting and ending their shifts.

Hospitality 

Like retail, hospitality companies can benefit greatly from the 9/80 shift. This might actually make the most sense for your managing staff, helping to ensure someone is there for coverage from the afternoon to close. When you do the 9/80 schedule right, it means any 24/7 coverage has shift overlap, meaning better communication and better quality of care.

Tech

Developers tend to work long hours. Anyone working on software or coding may appreciate the extra time spent on a project or sprint to get their tasks completed, plus the extra time off.

Creative 

Not every creative person or job can function during a strict 9-5 shift. Inspiration comes in sprints, kind of like developers, or any tech-involved role.

Writers, editors, graphic designers, you name the creative role, and a 9/80 shift schedule can work for them. It may not be as rigid as nine days of the same shifts in a row—allow some room for flexibility of shifts.

What are the legal considerations involved in the 9/80 schedule

As of 2023, there are no federal labor laws restricting or prohibiting the 9/80 work schedule. However, there are a couple of existing labor laws you’ll need to consult and follow.

  • According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), you must pay any non-exempt employee who works over their scheduled 40 hours per week overtime.
  • Check state laws to see if there are any restrictions. California, for example, has rules around overtime and alternate work schedules that require approval from the state’s division of labor standards enforcement. 

Make scheduling easier with the right tools 

If you’re looking to make a switch to an alternative schedule for your employees, you’ll need the right tool to make scheduling a breeze. Homebase helps optimize the scheduling process, freeing up time for you to focus on other tasks for the business. Decrease how many hours you spend each week on forecasting and scheduling with Homebase’s automated scheduling. 

Change in schedule? Homebase can sends out notifications to employees about shift changes, a new schedule, or anything else. Email, text, or your own team app: find what works for you. Homebase empowers employers and employees alike: employees can manage their time-off and shift change requests all from the app. Try Homebase for free today. 

9/80 work schedule FAQs

How many hours per week do employees work on a 9/80 work schedule?

Employees who work a 9/80 schedule must work 40 hours per week. 

What are some alternatives to the 9/80 work schedule?

Some other alternatives to the 9/80 schedule include working 8 hours a day for five days a week, a 4/10 work schedule, and various night shift schedules. Beyond these schedules, there are lots of different alternative schedules, like the 4-on, 4-off, 2-2-3, and more.

How can you create a 9/80 schedule for your workplace?

You can create and implement a 9/80 work schedule for your workplace by using Homebase. Homebase’s scheduling capabilities make it easy for businesses to schedule their employees however you want, ensuring coverage where you need it. Start with your opening and closing hours, where you need nine hours of coverage, and construct your shifts from there, allowing for one day off for employees every two weeks.

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