A reader at Slashdot posed an interesting question this week. His (or her?) company has instituted a new scheduling policy known as "9/80." It compresses 80 hours of work into only nine days, instead of the more traditional 10. In exchange for working longer days, employees get every other Friday off.
The reader wonders about the practicality of such an arrangement and asks, "Is your system flexible? Do you find time to get personal stuff done during the week? Is Friday good for anything other than catching up on lost sleep? And perhaps most important, do your managers respect the off-Fridays, or do they pull people in on a regular basis to handle 'crises?'"
Though it's easy to guess Slashdot employee kdawson's take on the idea (he tagged the question "hellno" and "slavery"), others weren't quite so grim.
"They're great! It's nice to have a weekday off because you can easily get through a weekend's errands in a day because of the lower crowds, and in my case, no kids to slow me," wrote one reader.
"I worked at a place that did this. Very nice, really. Easier to schedule things like dentist appointments and whatnot without taking time off, since I had a three-day weekend 26 times a year. And I could make a nine-day vacation on 36 hours vacation time, as long as I picked an off Friday week for the vacation," wrote another.
Of course, there are drawbacks. Some readers mentioned that their days off were frequently spent checking email and making sure they weren't missing anything at the office. Others say that three-day weekends don't make up for the longer workdays and later hours during the week. As one reader puts it, "Getting to work while it's dark & leaving when it's dark is depressing."
Obviously there are pros and cons to a non-traditional schedule like this. Employees may love having a couple extra days off every month, but provisions need to be made for who will manage the inevitable IT crisis. Unmarried workers might not mind staying later in the evenings, but employees with children and families may have a harder time adjusting. Extra days off are wonderful in theory, but they're not much fun if you're too exhausted from 10-hour days to enjoy them.
Whether a 9/80 schedule would work for your company depends on what kinds of IT services and support you're required to provide. Are you involved in mission critical work for business that's open around the clock? If so, schedules like this are likely to create more problems than they solve. On the other hand, if you handle the infrastructure for a company that can absorb the absence of the IT department a couple of times a month, it's an idea worth exploring.
Does your company offer alternative scheduling? Do you like it, or does it just create more headaches for everyone? Let me know in the comments.