Shift Schedule Topic #1 – 8-hour, 7-day

Shift schedules that provide coverage 24 hours/day, seven days/week (often called 24/7 shift schedules) are hot topics in manufacturing and service industries. These shift schedules maximize asset utilization and customer service – keys to success in today’s competitive business environment.

This shift schedule, in one form or another, has probably been the most commonly used shift schedule to provide 24/7 coverage. While widespread use does not make a shift schedule good, it does give us a good starting point for considering alternative shift schedules. You have probably either worked this type of schedule, or you know someone who has.

You will find that this traditional schedule has some advantages and some disadvantages relative to the potential alternatives. When looking at other 24/7 shift schedules, we will often use Shift Schedule #1 as our basis of comparison.

Shift Schedule Parameters
Coverage: 168 hours/week, continuous
Shift Length: 8 hours
Number of Crews: 4 crews
Shift Rotation Frequency: Weekly
Staffing: Balanced from shift to shift
Schedule Cycles per Year: 13
Work Shifts Scheduled: 273 per Year
Percent of Work Shifts that are Nights: 33%
Full Weekends of per Year: 13
Maximum Number of Shifts in a Row: 7
Average Workweek: 42 hours
Longest Workweek: 48 hours
Shortest Workweek: 40 hours
Longest Break in the Schedule: 4 days (13 times/year)

Other Assumptions:

  • Lunches are paid.
  • Skill requirements are the same on all shifts.
Shift Schedule #1
Week/Crew Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Work Hrs
N=Last
1/A d8 d8 d8 d8 d8 - - 40
2/B - - e8 e8 e8 e8 e8 40
3/C e8 e8 - n8 n8 n8 n8 48
4/D n8 n8 n8 - - d8 d8 40

d8 = 8-hour day shift

e8 = 8-hour evening shift

n8 = 8-hour night shift

- = Day off

This shift schedule is a four-week cycle staffed by four equal crews. Each crew is assigned to start their schedule in a different week in the cycle. At the end of each week, all crews move down to the next week in the cycle (or return to Week 1).

Business Issues

  • Every day is covered by three crews working, with each working crew on a different shift (i.e. 24 hour coverage). The fourth crew is off. This allows your operations to be covered continuously with full crews.
  • Since 8-hour shifts have been the “standard” for so long in many countries, the pay and work policies and union contracts in use today will often work without modification on this schedule.
  • Week 3 normally results in increased costs for overtime premiums.

Employee Issues

  • Built-in overtime and shift premiums result in increased compensation relative to many day-workers.
  • There are about 273 workdays each year (91 day shifts, 91 evening shifts, and 91 night shifts).
  • Only one weekend out of four is off (13 weekends off each year). Each weekend off is four days long. The weekend follows the day-shift, enabling employees to take better advantage of the time off (they don’t have to adjust to a new shift right away).
  • The weekly rotation increases fatigue levels.
  • Working seven consecutive shifts in a row is tiring.
  • Working 14 out of 15 days in weeks two, three and four, with half of that time on night shift, is even more tiring.
  • Overtime is normally worked on a scheduled workday, making time-off relatively predictable.

These are some of the issues that employers and employees with this schedule face. Other issues and variations on this schedule include:

  • Lunches may be paid or unpaid – unpaid lunches may result in idle time at shift change.
  • Start times may vary.
  • Overtime may be after/before shifts or on days off
  • Shifts may be fixed or oscillating (2 rotate, 1 fixed) – this complicates skill balance issues.
  • You may have variable staffing requirements.
  • Night shifts may be the first or last shift of the day.
  • A shift-breaker can reduce scheduled overtime.

For more information on shift schedules and solving shiftwork problems, contact us today!