How I Do It: Beating the Sunday Scaries - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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How I Do It: Beating the Sunday Scaries

It’s probably happened to everyone at least once in their career. That creeping feeling of dread on Sunday as you begin to consider all of your tasks ahead of you on Monday.

This sensation is dubbed the ‘Sunday scaries,’ and at Grow and Company, based in Houston, Texas, they are working to reduce this phenomenon by moving to a 9/80 work schedule for their management team.

Grow and Company piloted this work schedule last year, where their managerial team worked 80 hours over the course of 9 days, giving them every other Monday off.

Kyle Cahill, founder of Grow and Company, says he and his wife had discussed the feasibility of doing a four-day workweek and one of their employees mentioned how her husband works for Shell, where they work a 9/80 system.

Cahill says he and his leadership team began to talk through all the details of this schedule change for three months to see if it was a viable option.

“What are our goals and objectives?” Cahill says. “Why are we wanting to do this, first of all? How is it going to be rolled out to the team in a realistic fashion that also allows us to continue to service our clients in the way that they are used to being served and that we’re available to our clients? How do we make that work? What are our strategies there?”

He says their overall goal was to provide a unique benefit to their team and live out their mission and core values of giving people a good work-life integration.

How It Works

They initially piloted the schedule from September until the end of the year to see if the team liked it and if there were any issues with customer service or revenue dips. Cahill says they let the team know it was very experimental at the time.

“Through that first three-month initial period, what we realized it actually bolstered our communication in being prepared for your Monday off because you didn’t want to be contacted during your Monday off,” Cahill says. “You are making sure you have the rest of the team set up for success so that when you have your Monday off, you are not being contacted. That was an unintended consequence, a positive one, that I had no idea was going to happen.”

Cahill says the initial response from the staff was very reserved as they weren’t sure if there was a catch to the program. He says once they started the program, everyone loved it.

With no reduction in pay or benefits – Grow and Co. is rewarding their staff with 21 more days off in the year.

The company has a Team Blue and Team White to ensure they still have managers available every Monday, running their crews and getting things done. Each team has a counterpart for one another. For instance, their director of garden management and director of design/build are on opposite teams so they can oversee each other’s team while the other is off.

“If there is a big issue that comes your way, the idea is that we’ve scheduled this with different teams; you have a counterpart that can handle something that’s come up,” Cahill says.

Cahill says they don’t currently have a production manager for their construction team so their project manager and director of design are both off on the same Monday. Currently, he steps up to cover those days until they can hire someone for that position.

“I don’t love it,” Cahill says. “It makes me want to hire that production manager faster, but it’s also good motivation for, ‘Hey guys, I can’t run the whole team. We got to find that right person and get them in here.’”

Cahill says it’s on the managers to manage their schedule and let clients know which Mondays they’ll be off and create healthy boundaries.


With this extra time, Grow and Co. employees have been able to spend more time with their families doing everything from dog walks to coffee dates.

“There’s the impact for the employees themselves, but really, it’s the impact that this is allowing for the families and the significant others of those employees as well, which is which has been pretty cool to see,” Cahill says. “One of our employees has daughters that play soccer all the time. So he’s been able to actually go to some of those events and travel to see games.”

By knowing in advance when their three-day weekends are, their employees can also plan ahead on when they want to take vacation so they can use less PTO.

“It’s forced people to be more proactive in their scheduling and planning so they’re not leaving their teammates hanging on the Monday they’re off and vice versa,” Cahill says.

Cahill says that these days off can also be used to handle tasks like doctor appointments, going to the DMV and other errands that need to be done during business hours.

He says that the extra day off to complete various to-dos can ease some of their employees’ mental burdens.

“People need time away from the grind and they need time to spend with their families,” Cahill says. “They need those extended weekends. In our business when you have what’s sometimes affectionately referred to as the ‘100 days of hell,’ which is upcoming, you need to reset. You need to recharge even amongst that. You need that mental break.”

Cahill acknowledges while it is a very demanding industry, their team can still experience professional excellence and work life balance.

“As an added benefit, I think it’s also a huge recruiting tool for us,” Cahill says. “Everybody who we’ve interviewed, they’re not seeing this, at least regionally where we are in Houston, offered anywhere else. We do make a big effort to follow through; if it’s your Monday off, take the time off. We don’t want to see you here.”

Considerations To Be Aware Of

To execute this new schedule, there were some different factors to ensure its success. Cahill says they had to think through and update their PTO policy and how employees could accrue their time.

They also had to build their schedule to take into account the different holidays that might fall on a Monday like Christmas, New Year’s Day, or Labor Day. He says they skip those weeks so both teams are off.

“When you’re assigned a team, you have a week to look through everything and then talk with your manager to see if one works better, but you have to find that counterpart who’s willing to switch with you,” Cahill says.

He says you have to make sure you have a way to cover all your bases if you choose to implement this model at your company. While needing to hire in pairs is a pain point, he says the positives from this schedule far outweigh them.

Cahill says they are strict about their employees not switching between Team White or Team Blue for certain weeks, and they also don’t allow them to swap their Monday off for another day of the week.

The company doesn’t have a formal policy requiring their team to book personal appointments on their Monday off, but they do encourage their employees to use their free Mondays for tasks like haircuts and getting their oil changed.

Overall, they haven’t encountered any challenges to the new schedule beyond getting the team to understand they can’t switch a Monday for a Friday off.

“Friday is an extremely busy day for residential service,” Cahill says. “It’s our most requested day that people want their service. They want their landscapes looking good going into the weekend. We all need to be all hands-on deck, full team on Fridays for anything like that. Also going into a weekend over the summer, you want to make sure when it’s 100 degrees, all properties are checked, everything’s watered and all that kind of stuff. So that’s why we did go with Monday.”

Currently, this program is for only their management level employees and above. Cahill says for their hourly employees, he didn’t want them worried about having fewer hours. They are working on an offering that would allow their frontline employees to take more time off without fearing losing opportunities for work.

He says this is a good offering for service industry companies that can’t provide remote work to their employees.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.