The days of employees clocking in for a straight 9-to-5 shift are quickly disappearing. Employees are clamoring for more flexibility in their schedules, and employers are giving it to them.
Flexible work schedules give you a competitive edge in today’s tight labor market and increase productivity and employee satisfaction.
However, despite the numerous benefits of flexible scheduling, keeping up with the different types of schedules can be a logistical challenge, particularly if your employees are working different schedules. Every company has different needs regarding working schedules and coverage, so what’s best for one company may be a disaster for another.
Understanding and working with different types of work schedules can help you find one — or more — scheduling options that work best for your company and your employees.
Although the available options for work schedules are practically endless, the 15 work schedules below are among the most common and provide enough variety to meet the needs of almost every business.
A traditional schedule involves working “banker’s hours” — the typical 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. schedule. This is an extremely common work schedule for traditional businesses. This schedule excludes weekends and holidays. It has the benefit of being a regular work week.
Since it’s so common (Dolly Parton even recorded a wildly popular song about it in 1980), there are many options for childcare, and people are accustomed to working within and around this schedule. Although the phrase “9-to-5” is popularly used for this type of work schedule, the actual schedule often begins at 8:00 or 8:30 to allow for a 30-minute or one-hour lunch break.
If your company operates within standard business hours, this schedule may be a no-brainer for you. The advantage of a traditional schedule is that it makes scheduling a breeze. You and your employees know up front when they’ll be working, so there’s very little friction or conflict over it.
You don’t have to worry about staggering shifts or rotating coverage if your employees are all full-time. This can be a great option for businesses operating within standard business hours.
There’s no specific law in the US that defines full-time employees. It’s up to the employer to determine what qualifies as full-time employment status.
However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a full-time employee as working 35 hours per week or more, while the IRS cut-off is 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month.
This can involve a traditional schedule, or the hours may be scheduled in many other ways. Employees may work second or third shifts or may work split shifts. Full-time work can be accomplished with 10, 4-hour days or may be spread out over six days in a week.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employees who work over 40 hours weekly get paid overtime of at least one and one-half times their regular pay unless they’re exempt employees.
The FLSA doesn’t limit the number of hours employees can work — it just mandates overtime pay. The biggest advantage to employees working full-time is that most companies offer benefits to full-time workers that aren’t offered to part-time workers.
Just as with full-time employees, there’s no legal definition of part-time employees. Part-time employees are those who work less than full-time hours.
They may only work two or three days per week or work more days with fewer hours. Scheduling part-time employees can be more difficult simply because you need more people to provide coverage.
Although it can be a hassle to schedule, part-time employees may work best for certain businesses that rely heavily on students or other non-traditional workers, including coffee shops, restaurants, and retail stores.
Part-time schedules that include hours outside the standard 9-to-5 are often ideal for people working around other obligations.
A fixed schedule asks an employee to work certain hours on certain consistent days. This can be a traditional Monday through Friday schedule or any other combination of hours, such as Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Fixed schedules don’t provide much flexibility, but they certainly make scheduling and predicting labor costs simple.
While many manufacturing plants used to operate with fixed schedules on shifts, including first, second, and third shifts, many have moved to different types of shift work that may change from week to week. This makes scheduling more difficult, but it prevents the same employees from working odd hours continuously.
If your business operates for more than eight or ten hours daily, you will probably need a schedule that includes shift work. There are many ways you can schedule shift work. Many organizations, such as hospitals, have established shifts that run for specified hours, but they may change which employees work which shifts.
For instance, the shifts may include a first shift from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, a second shift from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and a third shift from 11:00 pm until 7:00 am. However, one employee may work a rotating shift, working first shift for a certain number of days, then switching to second shift, and so on. This avoids making one employee work night shifts indefinitely.
Shift work can also include a variety of schedules for 12-hour shifts. Some well-known shift schedules include the Dupont schedule, which provides employees seven days off in a row every month, and the Pitman shift schedule, where employees never work more than three consecutive days. With these rotating shift schedules, employees may work over 40 hours some weeks, so you’ll need to consider overtime costs. Look into the best employee scheduling apps comparison that can help with shift schedules.
A compressed work schedule is when your team members work a full-time work week in fewer days. Instead of working the traditional eight-hour workday, they may choose four days of 10 work hours per day. Having an extra day off every week is very appealing for many people.
Compressed schedules can promote work-life balance since employees have an extra day off to attend school events for their children, run errands, or handle other personal matters. The most common compressed schedule consists of four 10-hour days. However, you can also do other variations, including 12-hour shifts that alternate three and four-day weeks. These schedules will typically include some overtime that will need to be included in labor costs.
Employees who work flexible schedules still have to work a set number of hours, but they have flexibility in choosing when to work those hours. For example, if your company requires employees to work 40-hour weeks, employees may choose to work 10-hour days Monday through Thursday or any other combination of hours that adds up to 40.
A flexible schedule lets your employees work when it’s most convenient. It also allows them to take off in the middle of the day for a doctor’s appointment or to see their child’s school play without using PTO. For the right type of organization, offering employees flexible schedules can give you a significant competitive hiring advantage.
Your employees will likely be more productive, satisfied, and engaged when they can set their own schedules. There may be some challenges to offering flexible schedules, but the ability to attract more highly skilled workers is usually worth it if your business model supports it.
Split Shift Schedule
A split shift schedule involves working part of the day, taking several hours off, and then working the rest of the day. A common example of a split-shift schedule is a bus driver. They work several hours in the morning, picking up children and taking them to school, then have the rest of the morning and early afternoon off before returning to pick up children from school and take them home.
While split shifts are necessary for some types of jobs, they’re not ideal for most people since there are two separate commutes every day and a larger time commitment compared to working straight through.
Many industries, such as healthcare and tech, require employees to work on-call schedules, usually in addition to their regular schedule. A doctor may need to be available one weekend a month to answer after-hour calls. IT workers may also need to cover after-hours emergencies for clients.
On-call schedules are usually a necessary evil. No one enjoys having to be available at a moment’s notice to handle emergencies. However, in some fields, it’s a standard part of the working conditions. The on-call schedule is divided up so that employees share the burden.
A rotating employee schedule usually applies to shift work. Although rotating shift work is undoubtedly more difficult to schedule, studies have shown that employees who work rotating shifts experience less burnout than those who work straight second or third shifts.
As discussed in the section on shift work, there are many options for rotating schedules. They all have benefits and drawbacks, so you have to analyze what works best for your company and your employees. An employee scheduling app can make the process of scheduling rotating shifts easier.
Alternate schedule work occurs on any schedule that’s different from the industry norm for your business. Alternate schedules are often used to accommodate an employee’s specific needs, such as during pregnancy or after maternity leave. Alternate schedules can be a great option for keeping valuable employees who may otherwise leave due to other obligations.
If the alternate schedule includes reduced hours, you may need to hire another part-time employee to make up the difference. Although alternate schedules are usually temporary, they can become permanent if it works for you and the employee.
A semi-flexible schedule is not as free-form as a flexible schedule. It can be a good compromise when you want to offer your employees more freedom, but you must ensure a minimum coverage level during certain hours. Given that telecommuting can increase productivity and job satisfaction, it makes sense to offer the option when possible.
However, there’s no denying that having employees choose their work times can leave you shorthanded at inconvenient times. In these cases, a semi-flexible schedule can be the answer. With a semi-flexible schedule, your employees may have some fixed schedules but may be able to choose their schedules at other times.
A normal full-time work week can run up to 40 hours per week. With the ongoing labor shortage, many businesses need more coverage from fewer employees. An overtime schedule can address this. Although you’ll need to pay employees who work overtime more than their usual wages, keeping your business running optimally is usually worth it.
If your business is only open seasonally, or you experience a sharp increase in business during certain seasons, you can accommodate this with seasonal work schedules. A season schedule can be a great option for businesses such as water parks or businesses that rely on tourism. The major disadvantage to seasonal schedules is that there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to retain your best employees. They’re likely to find other employment when the season ends
Freelancers work any schedule they choose as long as they meet the deadline for delivering the work. Of course, freelancers aren’t employees, so you have very little control over their work schedule or environment. However, freelancing can be ideal if you need the work done, trust the freelancer, and are more concerned with results than face time.
No matter what schedule — or combination of schedules — you choose, using a top-rated scheduling app like Connecteam can simplify the process. You can easily create a variety of schedules and quickly notify your employees of their upcoming shifts. With Connecteam, you can input time-off requests and effortlessly reassign shifts.
Get started saving precious time and simplifying your scheduling today with Connecteam.