What would you do with two extra Fridays each month?
Go hiking in the countryside?
Spend more time with your family?
Laze around playing video games?
Study part-time for a new qualification?
With a 9-day fortnight, all of these are possible.
For some, it sounds like a dream work schedule. And it's gaining traction in the world of business, for companies of all sizes.
But surely there’s a downside. Does it make you less productive? Is it more stressful? Is it complex to roll it out across an organisation? Let’s find out.
The 9-day fortnight explained
The name explains itself, really. Usually, in this setup, you work your full contracted hours across nine days instead of the traditional ten within a two-week period. This usually means that your workdays are a bit longer, but in return, you get an extra day off every other week.
You'll still complete your usual number of hours; it’s just the number of days they fit into that changes.
This flexible working arrangement lets you enjoy a better work-life balance, hopefully with less stress and better job satisfaction. It's a modern approach to structuring your working time that allows you to have more control over your schedule, making room for personal commitments, family time or simply a day of rest.
It’s not quite the same as the 4-day work week, which does in fact reduce your working hours. But the overall aim and benefits are pretty similar.
Imagine having a three-day weekend twice a month – not bad, right?
The other, more adventurous 9-day fortnight
One thing to note is that none of this is gospel – it’s just one way of doing things. We have seen a few examples of some companies letting staff have 1 extra day off per fortnight without having to make up the hours elsewhere. It’s essentially a light version of the four-day work week trend we’ve seen a lot of recently.
We support that type of thing entirely, but it’s often a larger-scale project that needs trialling through a company to see if it’s viable.
In this article, we’re focusing on the compressed hours version of the nine day fortnight.
Example of a 9-day fortnight
Here’s how it might work in practice.
Let’s say you normally work 8 hours a day (40 hours a week, 80 hours per fortnight). A standard day would be 9am-6pm with an hour-long lunch break.
On the nine-day arrangement, it might look like this:
- Week 1: 9am-7pm each day
- Week 2: 9am-7pm Mon-Wed, 9am-6pm Thurs , Friday off
Or you could take shorter lunch breaks each day so you don’t have to do all those 7pm finishes. There are a few different ways you can make up those hours to earn an extra day off.
This contrasts with other flexible working arrangements where you might work part-time or have variable hours each day.
Pros and cons of a 9-day fortnight for employees
This unique working pattern can bring some pretty major benefits to your professional and personal life. But it’s not without drawbacks. If you’re thinking of working this way (or having your team try it out) here’s what you might want to consider.
Better work-life balance
The obvious benefit of the 9-day fortnight is the extra day you gain every other week. This additional day off grants you more time to attend to personal things, hang out with family, or simply relax and enjoy your hobbies.
Essentially, it means an extra day towards a better work-life balance, without sacrificing full-time pay or productivity. This structure can help you feel less overwhelmed, giving you a regular break to look forward to. Three-day weekends really are great – one study found that 87% of US workers believe three-day weekends are better for stress relief than longer holiday breaks.
If you’ve ever felt that a normal weekend is too short – haven’t we all? – an extended one make a huge difference. Rather than spending Saturday recovering, and Sunday catching up on life admin, you actually get time to do fun and interesting stuff.
Better mental health and wellbeing
And with that lovely time off, you should end up with better health overall.
We’ve previously mentioned the four types of rest – mental, physical, social and spiritual – and that it takes a bit of time and give them each the required attention. That extra time off can help you recharge those four batteries, depending on how you like structuring your time off.
Your mental health certainly stands to improve with this sort of flexible working pattern. Longer breaks can reduce stress and burnout, which are pretty common consequences of long stretches of work without proper rest.
Longer days can be exhausting
After a 3-day weekend, you might feel energised and ready to go. That first Monday back, you could smash through a 9pm-7pm shift no problem. Nothing really happens on Mondays anyway, right? Might as well get some work in.
But imagine you’re on that second week. It’s Tuesday, you’ve been working an additional hour on your 7th consecutive shift (minus a regular weekend). It’s really dragging on a bit.
That extra hour of work each day really reduces your options in the evenings, too. You might have to miss that 6pm yoga class or pub visit. And if you have children to care for, it’s definitely going to cause some issues.
Is it worth the trade-off?
Pros and cons of a 9-day fortnight for companies
There aren’t many stories out there of companies introducing 9-day fortnights specifically. It’s usually introduced in companies as part of flexible working programs, which are becoming more common.
The recent Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, which received Royal Assent in July 2023, will allow employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, instead of just one. Anyone has the right to request it, and companies are obligated to at least consider each request.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of bringing in this work pattern to your company.
Good impacts on productivity and efficiency
When your team shifts to a nine-day fortnight, the most immediate metric to watch is productivity. During the pandemic, many businesses noticed that traditional 5-day weeks weren’t the only model that kept operations humming. Now, flexitime and hybrid working arrangements are in the spotlight.
Offering a nine-day fortnight can lead to a more focused and efficient use of time, magnifying what your team can achieve in a two-week period. Happier workers are usually more productive workers. And your employer branding might gain a boost, too, as more people find out about your progressive and flexible approach to work.
- No drop in hours: Despite working fewer days, there's little to no change in the total hours worked over the fortnight.
- Sustained output: A shorter work week can reduce fatigue and improve focus, sustaining or even boosting productivity.
While it’ll certainly make some employees happier, a nine day fortnight can bring some problems to your business if you’re not careful.
- Scheduling difficulties: It might pose challenges in terms of scheduling meetings, client interactions, and getting adequate coverage on days when some employees are off. This might take some careful planning and coordination to avoid disruptions to your everyday operations.
- Impact on client availability: If your business relies heavily on client interactions and operates on a traditional Monday-Friday schedule, this work pattern might affect the availability of employees to engage with clients on a consistent basis. This might not be great for customer service and satisfaction.
- Adjustment period: Introducing a new work schedule does need an adjustment period for both workers and management. This might take a bit of time to adapt to the new routine and for your internal processes to adjust.
- Not always the healthy option: While the 9-day fortnight aims to make long work weeks more bearable, the longer hours on workdays and potential scheduling challenges might cause frustration. What energises some might cause more stress for others.
How to implement a 9-day fortnight in your business
In your journey of introducing the 9-day fortnight into your workplace, striking a balance between operational needs and the well-being of your team is key. Here are the specific steps and considerations to ensure a seamless transition.
As a line manager, you’ll have the responsibility of arranging adequate cover to maintain operational standards. You'll need to plan meticulously, considering staff availability, peak times, and alternating Fridays off to avoid any operational hiccups.
Additionally, integrating this flexible working arrangement requires really clear communication. You’ve got to involve your team in the discussion keep things fair and address any concerns. Meanwhile, you’ll have to watch over employee wellbeing and work-life balance, as these are important for the initiative's success.
Structuring the work schedule
You’ll have to have a good handle on the number of hours your full-time staff are contracted for.
Transitioning to a 9-day fortnight typically involves compressed hours, which can get a bit complicated. For instance, a regular 8am - 4pm shift might extend to 8am - 4:45pm to fit the required hours into fewer days. When planning, don't forget to factor in bank holidays and annual leave to avoid understaffing. One possible solution is to add the total number of bank holidays to employees' annual leave entitlement to keep things fair and organised.
The socioeconomic implications of the 9-day fortnight
The societal ripple effects of a nine-day fortnight can go far beyond the walls of your business.
It’s not just an alternative to longer hours; it has the potential to reshape society’s view on work-life balance. The conversation around a four-day work week often touches on the enhanced life satisfaction of company team members, and rightly so. With no reduction in holiday entitlement, the quality of their work and personal life improves. These changes can boost overall health (reducing the burden on our healthcare system) and also stimulate the economy; with extra days off, people have more time for leisure activities, potentially leading to increased spending and economic stimulation.
With fewer working days, you’re happy, your workers are happy, and the local cinemas and coffee shops will be happy with the increased business. It’s worth a try, surely?