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The 9 Day Fortnight: The Key to Maximising Productivity

Future of work
Team photo from Montreux, Switzerland

Imagine reclaiming your work-life balance without compromising productivity or pay. One work arrangement that's gaining traction aims to solve this: the 9 day fortnight. It's a work pattern where full-time hours are spread across nine days instead of the conventional ten, within a two-week period.

The 9 day fortnight working pattern allows employees to have an extra day off by extending their usual workday and having every other Friday off. We look into the benefits and challenges of this work model, and why it might be the future of work.

What is a 9 day fortnight?

9 Day Fortnight

A work arrangement where employees work compressed hours over nine days, as opposed to the standard ten-day schedule, within a fortnight.

This working pattern provides an additional day off every fortnight, often translating into a three-day weekend for the employees.

With this working pattern, the total number of work hours remains consistent with a standard full-time schedule, but these are compressed hours and are distributed over nine days versus ten. This usually requires an extension of the normal working day to accumulate enough hours for the additional day off.

The 9 day fortnight can also be implemented without extending work hours, where employees work their regular hours and take a day off every other week, without experiencing a salary drop. This approach is less common but is known to boost productivity in the same way.

Understanding the 9 day fortnight

The idea behind the 9 Day Fortnight emerged from the need to harmonise productivity with employee wellness. The working pattern has already been integrated into organisations like Essex County Council, which considers employee flexibility and well-being to be paramount. This led them to implement a 9 Day Fortnight for their full-time frontline Social Workers offering a work-life balance without any pay reduction.

Differing from the usual five-day workweek, the 9 Day Fortnight has found increased resonance in professionals seeking to do more flexible work.

Reflecting on recent studies from recruitment company Hays, more employers are contemplating the 9 Day Fortnight pattern (at 28%) over the four-day week (at 22%).

Figures shared by Hays reveal that 68% of UK professionals would be lured into switching organisations if it implemented a 9 Day Fortnight. This percentage increases to 72% among professionals aged between 20 and 29.

9 day fortnight pros and cons for employees

Before deciding whether you should implement this, it's essential to examine the pros and cons and to better understand the implications it can have on work-life balance, physical health, and productivity.

Enhancing work-life balance and wellbeing

A draw of the 9 Day Fortnight working pattern is the potential for a better work-life balance. Most notably, the scheme aims to reduce stressโ€”thanks to an extended break between a working weekโ€”and boost job satisfaction. Forbes found that almost 80% of workers feel more loyal to employers who offer flexible working options, as it allows room for personal errands or medical appointments within their work schedule, fostering overall better health and leading to a happier and healthier workforce.

Secondly, the 9 Day Fortnight scheme saves commuting expenses and timeโ€”a significant appeal given the average worker's commuting time is around 28 minutes one-way (Transport Statistics Great Britain (TSGB)). Eliminating this for one day every other week accumulates considerable annual savings of both time and money.

The challenge of longer working days

The primary challenge associated with the 9 Day Fortnight: longer working days. Essentially, it compresses the same amount of work into fewer days, forcing the average workday to increase.

For instance, a 37.5-hour week traditionally spread over five days is a 7.5-hour workday. But, under the 9 day fortnight scheme, this time is spread over nine days, pushing the average working day to approximately 8.3 hours. While it might appeal on the extra day off, working longer hours in the week could actually negate the very work-life balance you're seeking.

It's worth thinking whether the 9-day fortnight would work for you and your individual routine. Even though it promises to assist with flexible working and increase productivity, it's crucial to remember: the 'best' working pattern is subjective to every individual.

9 day fortnight pros and cons for organisations

Improved employee engagement

Incorporating the 9-Day Fortnight working pattern into your organisation's working pattern can significantly enhance employee engagement. Knowing that their employers value their work-life balance can enhance employees' sense of commitment and loyalty towards the organisation. When employees feel heard and cared for, it naturally motivates them towards delivering better results and in turn, drives the organisation's productivity.

Possible drawbacks

One drawback would be the increase in daily working hours. The 9 Day Fortnight requires the same amount of work to be completed, but over fewer days, which usually requires an increase in an employee's usual workday. This can inflate the number of hours an employee has to put in every day, which, in turn, might impact the work-life balance your company strives to maintain.

Many jobs also require continuous collaboration amongst team members and one member's absence on a working day might disrupt the workflow. Yet, with an effective plan in place to handle such possibilities, the 9-day fortnight could be a success.

How to calculate 9-day fortnight working hours

For a standard 40-hour workweek, an employee would need to work around 8.9 hours or 8 hours and 54 minutes each day over the 9 days of the fortnight to meet their total required hours.

You can find out more about how to work this out using a 9 day fortnight calculator.

By doing this, employees are working compressed hours, which for some, may necessitate adjustments with families, lifestyles, and colleagues.

How does a 9 day fortnight work with annual leave? Be aware that switching to a 9-day fortnight can impact not only work-life balance but, perhaps, the calculation of annual leave, depending on the organisation's policies. Hence, it is always best to ensure that your holiday calculations are still correct.

Implementing a 9 day fortnight working pattern

According to a survey conducted with over 9000 professionals, over a quarter of employers are already implementing or considering starting a 9-day fortnight. The same survey revealed 40% of respondents said they would be willing to work fully based in the office in exchange for a four day work week every other week.

A 9 day fortnight working pattern example

Implementing a 9-day fortnight working schedule requires meticulous attention to detail particularly when arranging adequate staff cover to maintain operational standards. For instance, you'll need to ensure that these hours are strategically spread across the nine working days of the fortnight to ensure full coverage.

The simple way to avoid this is to start by dividing your employees into two groups and allocate each group's day off on alternate Fridays, therefore ensuring coverage on each of those days.

The key is to make sure there is an even split within departments as well so there is always someone covering the work when the other half of their team is off.

If you wanted to avoid further scheduling difficulties, the organisation can be split into four groups, with a different day off for each. For example, two groups could be off on alternate Mondays (still benefiting from a 3-day weekend) whilst others enjoy alternate Fridays.

Remember to involve your team in the discussion, listen to their concerns and always keep the communication lines open. The goal is to ensure a fair system that benefits everyone, where employees are completing the same number of days, the same hours per day and are enjoying the extra day off they deserve.

Deciding whether to adopt a 9 day fortnight for your organisation

There are numerous benefits of a 9 Day Fortnight, but remember that any changes should align with both the employer's and the employee's requirements. There are alternative working patterns that offer more flexibility, but sometimes without the same levels of productivity. It's worth comparing the benefits and drawbacks of working compressed hours versus flexitime, to see which would work for your individual needs.

Though it requires some reshuffling, a 9-day fortnight working pattern can strike an ideal balance between operational needs and employee welfare. A three-day weekend twice a month as well as increased productivity, an improved work-life balance and no changes to their pay - sounds like a good deal to us!

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