A work schedule consists of a list of time periods when an employee is expected to work. Days per week and hours per day are generally referenced in a work schedule. There are many different types of work schedules, which will vary depending on the organization and an employee’s position. These schedules make up a critical element of a job’s working conditions as employees value a schedule that is beneficial, predictable, flexible, and fair. Work schedules can also vary depending on the time of year. Here are some of the most popular types of work schedules for employees.
Full-time work schedules often require a commitment of 37 to 40 hours per week. Employees can expect to receive benefits if they work this type of schedule because of the long hours they put in. These benefits can include being able to take a vacation and taking sick days. Other benefits include health insurance and varying retirement plan options. While full-time schedules will vary depending on which company you work for, most of the time, employees are expected to work the same shift every week. The most commonly discussed full-time work schedule would be the variant of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. These hours amount to 40 hours per week.
Employees will be able to immediately tell the difference between working full-time and part-time because of the number of hours. A part-time schedule is any schedule that has fewer hours than full-time employment. One key benefit of working part-time is that the employee is allowed to have greater flexibility to maintain other responsibilities outside of work. However, one key drawback to working a part-time schedule is that employees will not be given the same kind of benefits that are given to full-time employees. Hours can be erratic and inconsistent on a weekly basis. An example of a part-time schedule is Monday through Wednesday from 7:00 to 11:00 AM and the weekends from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
A fixed work schedule is made up of the same number of hours and days worked per week. When the employer and the employee both agree on the number of hours and days that will be worked, fixed work schedules tend to stay consistent. Fixed work schedules are similar to the standard full-time work schedule, but the key difference is that they can apply to alternative work times such as Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. For employers, fixed schedules allow for long-term planning, making it easier to calculate labor costs. With this schedule, you don’t have to change your regular template every time you make a new work schedule.
Also known as a flexible work schedule, this variant is less rigid than a fixed work schedule. An employee who works a flexible work schedule is someone that is required to work core hours with the rest of their hours to be worked according to the employee’s preferences. Employees work together with their employers to determine the times the employee will work. Depending on the policy of the employer, employees may be expected to work a minimum number of hours or be at work at a certain daily block of time. However, shifts can often be switched with other employees to satisfy the needs of both the employer and the busy life of the employee.
5. Rotating Shifts
A business schedule can be organized into a variety of shifts that may be continuous 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or non-continuous with periods where all employees are off. These shifts are rotated so that employees take turns working different shifts. Rotating shifts include day, swing and night shifts, and can cycle weekly or quarterly, depending on the type of work required. This work schedule can be seen in careers like the military, construction work, roadwork jobs, power plants, and healthcare. Transitioning between varying schedules can be difficult for some employees as sleep and eating patterns will have to change, and time to see family and friends becomes less frequent.
6. Split Shift
Working a split shift schedule means that an employee is splitting hours throughout the day. For example, an employee may put in 4 hours during the morning, 2 more hours in the mid-afternoon, and then put in a final 2 hours in the evening; or 4 hours in the morning, then back to work 4 more hours in the evening. Working more than once a day may be because of business needs or an employee’s preference. Some employees may ask for a type of arrangement where they work in multiple time periods in a single day. This schedule means that one’s day is split to allow for other life happenings in between.
7. Compressed Workweek
This work schedule variant takes a typical 40-hour, Monday through Friday format and compresses it into fewer workdays. Instead of working 5 days a week, a compressed workweek will lengthen the hours on either 3 or 4 of those days. In return, the employee is allowed an additional day or two off per week. The most popular compressed schedules are 3 workdays of 12 hours each with 4 days off, and 4 workdays of 10 hours each with 3 days off. This option is more easily applied to non-exempt (or bi-weekly paid) staff that work maximum hours, but monthly paid employees who work more than 40 hours a week can still have this schedule.
Conventional shift work happens to be one of the more common work schedule types, and it is usually reserved for businesses that operate more than 10 hours in a single day. Especially for businesses that stay open around the clock, as in 24 hours a day, employers will usually set up a first shift such as 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM, a second shift such as 3:00 to 11:00 PM, and a third shift, 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM, which is also known as the night shift. Depending on the industry they work in, employees who work standard shifts will be required to work what might be considered to be irregular hours.
One of the most flexible schedules for a worker to have would be a freelance schedule. A freelancer can essentially work whenever they choose as long as their required work is completed by a set deadline. Employers that choose to incorporate a freelance type of work schedule signal that they relinquish a considerable amount of control over when an employee works. However, by finding a person they can trust to handle a job with care and get the job done correctly and on time, gives the freelance schedule a great deal of legitimacy. On the flip side, unfocused freelancers or employers who refuse to give up control will make for a rough work experience.
10. Results Only Work Environment
While this option is similar to the completely flexible work schedule, this option is focused more on results and productivity rather than the actual time an employee puts in. A Results-Only Work Environment, or ROWE for short, is a policy in which employees are judged or paid for the result of their performance. Employees can completely customize their own schedules in a ROWE and work the hours that make the most sense to them. In order for a ROWE to be successful, there must be a results-oriented, organized leader. It is essential for employers to have a clear vision of what needs to be done, and responsible employees who understand and respect that vision.
An Alternate work schedule is a broad term for any flexible or non-standard work schedule that is arranged at the request of an employee. Any work schedule type that is different from the schedule used by others in a company is called an Alternate work schedule. These schedules are usually implemented to accommodate employee needs such as pregnancy, medical requirements, and family issues. When an employee works an Alternate work schedule it means that person has been hired to take the place of or make up for the hours an original employee vacated. These schedules usually remain temporary but they can become more regular if the issues that necessitated the hire continue.
Some organizations have to implement overtime in their work schedules because they are under-staffed. Whether this is due to a hiring freeze, being forced to downsize, or they are in an industry where employees are expected to work a lot more than 40 hours per week, some companies will have to turn to overtime shifts to keep going. In some cases, employees who work more than full-time hours depending on business needs may be compensated at a higher rate of pay. For example, if a company uses 3-crew schedules to cover 24 hours a day and 7 hours a week, employees will be required to work an average of 56 hours a week.
When an employee agrees to work an On-Call schedule, that means the employee is available to work at any time, day or night, as the employer demands. This requirement is typically compensated beyond the hours worked as it prevents the employee from having any time that is legitimately off. On-Call responsibilities are commonly rotated between multiple employees as they are initially seen as burdensome. Employees typically share On-Call duties so that one person doesn’t have to work all the time. Most employers will use this type of work schedule to plan for emergencies or to prepare for no call, no show employees. For example, physicians often work one On-Call day per month in case an emergency arises.
Employees that take on a seasonal work schedule are working for only a few months out of the year. Typical seasonal work schedule types include the holiday season of November through December and the summer season of June, July, and August. Seasonal jobs are not just for students that have recently come out of high school and college. Many adults take on seasonal jobs to supplement their income, boost their savings, or prepare for a one-time major purchase. In most cases, schedules will dictate which season is right for an employee. The winter months are ideal for retail and restaurant jobs whereas summer is the season for job opportunities in the festival and camp industries.
15. No Set Schedules
There is such a template of work where employees are not bound at all by any set schedules. Though they have a set of responsibilities and tasks that they must complete, employees are not dictated the hours they must work to succeed in their jobs. If they are able to complete assignments in less than a full-time 40-hour workweek, then employees can take the rest of the week off. In practice, this type of work arrangement is often reserved for positions with heavy workloads where short work weeks are unlikely. While similar to that of a freelance schedule, the No Set Schedule differs in that employees usually report to an office to perform their work.
Sudden changes in weekly work hours are most likely to occur in an Unpredictable work schedule. When an employee experiences erratic changes to a schedule, which isn’t following a normal pattern, the employee has to be able to quickly adapt to such changes. Many states in America have laws that regulate and even prohibit unpredictable work schedule types, and these kinds of work schedules are difficult for both employers and employees to handle. It is almost impossible for employees to effectively plan for other activities outside of work with this schedule type because they do not know when they will work next. Employers are required to recreate their templates from scratch every time.
17. Irregular Shift
Only slightly different from the Unpredictable work schedule, employees that work irregular shifts will be working hours that will consistently change throughout the week. The main difference is that employees will know before the start of the week when they will be able to work. Irregular shifts follow no fixed temporal patterns such as daytime or nighttime shifts. Employers may assign these shifts as particular needs or when problems arise. An example of an Irregular Shift work schedule would be a salesperson working a 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM shift one day, a 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM shift another day, and then a 2:00 to 11:00 PM shift the next day.
18. DuPont Shift
The DuPont plan is considered to be one of the most popular work schedules as it features rotating shifts of 12 hours, using 4 teams, to ensure coverage around the clock. During a cycle of 4 weeks, an employee’s schedule consists of 4 consecutive night shifts, 3 days off, 3 consecutive day shifts, 1 day off, 3 consecutive night shifts, 3 days off, 4 consecutive day shifts, and then 7 consecutive days off. With this schedule, employees enjoy having a 1-week vacation built into each month. However, one day off in the middle of the month may not be enough time for employees to adequately adjust before going back to work.
19. Pitman Shift
Also referred to as the “Every Other Weekend Off Schedule”, this common plan consists of 4 teams of employees working two 12-hour shifts per day and operates on 2-week cycles. Each team will be given either the day shift or the night shift. A sample schedule for teams who work the night shift would be the following; 2-night shifts, 2 days off, 3-night shifts, 2 nights off, 2-night shifts, and then 3 nights off. With this schedule employees will have every other weekend off, allowing them to make plans with family and friends. Employees never work more than 3 consecutive days with this plan. However, 12-hour nighttime shifts can be physically grueling.
20. Kelly Shift
Fire departments and emergency services agencies love this work schedule type. This plan implements 3 teams and 3 shifts to provide coverage around the clock. It consists of a 9-day cycle where each team will work one 24-hour shift, and then they will be off duty for 24 hours. Another 24 hours are worked, and then another 24 hours is taken off. Another 24-hour shift is worked, and then 4 consecutive days are taken off. The same day of the week is worked for 3 consecutive weeks. That same day will be taken off for 9 consecutive weeks afterward. One key benefit of this plan is that employees never work an entire weekend.
There are many ways for employees to put in effective work, and these schedules highlight how much employees are needed for specific time periods. Depending on the industry you work in, your ability to make critical adjustments to any schedule will determine how much of an impact you will make.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.