types of shifts

14 Types of Shifts Managers Need to Know

Managing a team effectively involves understanding and implementing different types of shifts. From fixed shifts to rotating shifts, each shift type has distinct characteristics, benefits, and challenges. Understanding them can help managers make informed decisions when scheduling their workforce.

In this post, we’ll explore 12 types of work shifts so you can plan more efficient work schedules while supporting employees’ work-life balance.

14 types of shifts managers need to know

1. Standard shift

The standard shift, also known as the 9 to 5 shift or traditional shift, is a workday that starts at 9 AM and ends at 5 PM, usually with an hour-long lunch break. This shift type is common with office jobs and businesses that operate during standard business hours.

The 9-to-5 shift is one of the types of shifts that provides a predictable routine and is preferred by employees who want to enjoy evenings and weekends off for personal activities. However, its lack of flexibility can be a downside for people who seek a more flexible work arrangement.

office workers taking 9 to 5 standard shift hours
Office workers taking 9 to 5 standard shift

2. First shift

First shift, also known as the day shift or morning shift, typically refers to the working hours that occur during the daytime. This shift usually starts in the early morning, around 7 or 8 AM, and ends in the afternoon, typically around 4 or 5 PM.

This shift is similar to the traditional 9-5 shift because it takes place during the daytime, but its specific start and end times can vary depending on the business.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd shifts are common terms in shift-based workplaces that operate around the clock or have extended operating hours, such as manufacturing plants, hospitals, or call centers.

Examples of first shift positions:

  • Customer service representative
  • Bank teller
  • Warehouse associate
  • Office administrator
worker working first shift
Worker working first shift in the morning

3. Second shift

The second shift, also known as evening shift or swing shift, typically begins in the afternoon and ends in the late evening. For example, a typical 2nd shift may run from 3 PM to 11 PM.

Although the second shift gives employees flexible mornings and potential for higher wages due to shift differentials, it can limit social activities and the time spent on family responsibilities.

Examples of second shift positions:

  • Factory assembly line worker
  • Security guard
  • Restaurant cook
  • Hotel front desk clerk
  • Emergency room nurse

4. Third shift

Third shift, also called night shift or graveyard shift, is a shift that takes place overnight. It typically starts late in the evening, often around 10 or 11 PM, and ends in the morning, typically around 6 or 7 AM.

Night shifts keep business running 24/7 and employees can get benefits like shift differentials, but they also negatively impact well-being and social life. To reduce the risks of working night shifts, employers can provide adequate break rooms, promote healthy sleep habits, or provide support programs for night workers.

Some third shift jobs include:

  • Overnight stock clerk
  • Night shift custodian
  • 24-hour call center operator
  • Emergency dispatcher
  • Night auditor
worker working third shift
Employee working third shift

5. Rotating shift

Rotating shift refers to a work schedule in which employees alternate between different shift times over a period. For instance, workers can rotate between first, second, and third shifts weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

A rotating schedule is a compromise between the needs of a 24-hour operational business and the preferences and well-being of employees. While they offer variety and fairness in employee scheduling, they can also pose significant challenges to workers’ health and personal lives.

Examples of positions working rotating shifts:

  • Hospital staff nurse
  • Police officer
  • Manufacturing plant operator
  • Firefighter
  • Utility worker
pitman rotating schedule
Pitman rotating schedule

6. Split shift

A split shift is a type of work schedule that breaks a workday into two or more separate parts with unpaid breaks of several hours between them.

This kind of schedule is common in industries that experience peaks of activity at specific times of the day, such as the food service or transportation sectors.

A split shift can offer flexibility for employees to attend to personal matters during the day while still fulfilling work obligations, but it can also lengthen the workday and disrupt work-life balance.

Examples of split shift jobs:

  • School bus driver driving students to school in the morning and returning to drive them home in the afternoon, with a break in between.
  • Barista working early mornings for the breakfast rush and coming back for the afternoon/evening peak hours.
  • Childcare worker caring for children during the early morning, taking a break while children are at school, and then working again when children return home from school.
barista working split shift to accomodate peak hours in a coffee shop
Barista working split shift to accomodate peak hours in a coffee shop

7. Fixed shift

Fixed shift jobs are positions where employees work the same set hours on a consistent schedule.

Unlike rotating or split shifts, a fixed shift does not vary from week to week, providing the stability and predictability that many workers prefer.

Here are some examples of fixed shift jobs:

  • Bakery chef starts early in the morning to prepare fresh goods before the shop opens and finishes in the early afternoon.
  • Customer service specialist provides support during peak business hours, often fixed to accommodate the highest volume of customer interactions.
  • Librarian works set hours that align with the library’s operating times.
librabrian working fixed shift that aligns with the library's opening times
Librabrian working fixed shift that aligns with the library’s opening times

8. Flex shift

A flex shift, also known as flexible shift or flex time, allows employees to tailor their start and end times to fit their personal needs and preferences.

As the demand for work-life balance in modern work increases, flexible types of work shifts have become increasingly popular in various sectors, from corporate environments to service industries. According to a FlexJobs survey, approximately 30% of participants stated they left their jobs because those positions did not provide flexible work options.

Companies implementing flexible shifts should establish clear policies and effective communication strategies to ensure team unity and customer satisfaction.

Examples of flex shift jobs:

  • Remote customer service representative: Chooses from a range of shifts to handle customer inquiries from home, accommodating peak times across different time zones.
  • Nurse practitioner in a telehealth setting: Sets availability for virtual consultations with patients around other commitments or peak demand times.
telehealth doctor working flex shift
Telehealth doctor working flex shift

9. 24-hour shift

24-hour shifts involve employees working a full 24-hour period followed by a set amount of time off. These shifts are typically found in professions that require constant coverage, such as healthcare, emergency services, and security.

Examples of 24-hour shift jobs include:

  • Firefighter
  • Paramedic
  • Emergency room physician
  • On-site property manager
  • Oil rig worker

As 24-hour shifts can be too long and exhausting for employees, some workplaces may implement 12-hour shifts. While these long types of shifts allow businesses to open round the clock, their intensity and length can lead to health risks and potential burnout.

It is most effective when employers provide adequate support, such as ensuring proper rest areas, offering health and wellness programs, and maintaining strict adherence to safety protocols.

emergency room worker working 24 hour shift to ensure coverage for patient care
Emergency room worker working 24 hour shift to ensure coverage for patient care

10. On-call shift

On-call shift is a type of schedule where employees are required to be available to work if needed, usually outside their regular working hours. During an on-call shift, employees may not need to be physically present at the workplace, but they’re expected to respond to work-related requests or emergencies.

On-call shifts offer flexibility and ensure coverage during non-standard hours. However, they can disrupt personal lives, restrict freedom to make plans, and lead to increased stress levels and potential fatigue for employees.

To manage an on-call schedule effectively, employers should establish clear policies regarding availability, response times, compensation, and rest periods between shifts. Additionally, providing support systems and resources to help employees cope with the unpredictability of on-call work can lead to a healthier and more productive workforce.

Some examples of on-call positions include:

  • IT support technician
  • OB/GYN
  • Emergency room positions
IT support technician working on call shift
IT support technician working on call shift

11. Seasonal shift

Seasonal shift work refers to schedules that fluctuate according to the time of year, aligning with the ebb and flow of business in different seasons. This type of shift is common in agriculture, retail (especially during holiday periods), tourism, and other industries that experience significant variations in workload throughout the year.

Managing seasonal shifts successfully requires careful planning and communication. Employers should provide clear expectations about the seasonality of the work and offer incentives to encourage workers to return each season.

Examples of seasonal shift jobs:

  • Retail holiday worker: Hired during the holiday season to handle the increased shopping demand, stocking shelves, working as cashiers, or assisting with customer service.
  • Lifeguard: Employed at beaches and outdoor pools during the summer months when these venues are open and at their busiest.
  • Ski instructor: Works at ski resorts during the winter season, providing lessons and guidance to skiers and snowboarders.
ski instructor working seasonal shift and instructing ski students
Ski instructor instructing ski students in a seasonal shift

12. Weekday or weekend shift

Weekday shifts typically run from Monday to Friday, aligning with the conventional workweek. These shifts are common in office environments, financial institutions, government agencies, and healthcare facilities that operate on a standard business schedule.

Weekend shifts take place on Saturdays and Sundays and are prevalent in the retail, hospitality, healthcare, and entertainment sectors, where demand often spikes during the weekend.

13. Clopening shift

A clopening shift, also known as a clopen or clopening shift, refers to a work schedule where an employee is required to close the business at the end of the day and then return to open it the next morning.

Working clopening shifts means employees get minimal time for rest, which can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue. The constant cycle of working late and returning early can increase stress levels, as employees may feel overwhelmed and unable to fully recharge.

Here are a few examples of positions working clopening:

  • Restaurant staff members close the restaurant at night and then return early to prepare for the morning shift or breakfast service.
  • Hotel staff, such as front desk associates, housekeepers, and concierge, close out the day’s operations and then come back early in the morning to handle guest check-ins.
coffee shop worker taking clopening shift
Coffee shop worker taking clopening shift

14. Compressed shift

A compressed shift occurs when employees work longer hours per day but for fewer days in a week.

For example:

  • In a 9/80 work schedule, instead of working 8 hours per day and having 2 days off on the weekend, employees can work 9 hours per day and enjoy 3 consecutive days off on the weekend every 2 weeks.
  • In a 4/10 work schedule, employees work 4 days a week and 10 hours per day, so they can have a three-day weekend.

The biggest advantage of a compressed workweek is the longer time off. However, because they work longer hours each day, it can be physically and mentally draining. Managing these types of shifts requires careful attention to employee well-being and addressing challenges associated with longer work hours.

9 80 work schedule
An example of 9/80 work schedule

Manage different types of shifts better using the right tool

Although there are many types of shifts available to adapt to the nature of each workplace and industry, each of them comes with its own set of advantages and challenges. Understanding these shift patterns can help both employers and employees create a productive work environment and a balanced life.

Having the right tool can help you manage shifts more efficiently, minimize conflicts, and improve employee satisfaction. Simplify your shift management and improve productivity with scheduling software like Camelo.

Camelo makes it easier to manage and schedule different types of work shifts, helping you ensure coverage and promote a healthier work-life balance for your team. Create a free account today →.

manage different types of shifts on Camelo scheduling software
Manage different types of shifts on Camelo scheduling software

Similar Posts