If you search Google for different types of work schedules, you’ll see that there are a lot of them.

To serve the needs of today’s demands, many work schedule types are implemented. Each varies in terms of work hours, work days, and the concept behind them. Each comes with their own pros and cons. How can you decide which one will work best for your business?

In this post, we’ll explain 16 most common types of work schedules so you understand how they work and figure out which one suits your business most.

16 types of work schedules managers & business owners should know

Tip: You can combine these schedules to fit your business and employees.

Standard (9 to 5)

A standard schedule is basically a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule. Employees work from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

Many employees prefer the standard work schedule because it’s familiar and because they work on set days and hours. Employees know exactly when they need to work and they can plan their life activities ahead.

This schedule type is also simpler for the scheduling process, meaning it’s easier for business owners and schedule managers. Most scheduling tools out there are designed around the standard hours, so you don’t have to customize your work schedule too much.

However, as the modern work culture shifts and employees start to prefer flexible hours, the standard work schedule isn’t a good fit for all businesses anymore.

Pros:

  • Familiar
  • Easy for life planning and schedule planning

Cons:

  • Lack flexibility

Full-time

A full-time work schedule often requires employees to work 35-40 hours per week. Because there’s no legal definition for full-time schedules, each business needs to define how many hours are considered full-time in their policies and guidelines.

A full-time schedule doesn’t have to be standard 9 to 5. It may include four 10-hour days or five 8-hour days, as long as the total working hours every week is 35-40.

For employers, full-time employees are more stable and reliable. You know employees will show up and you don’t have to run around looking for substitutes.

But it’s costly to pay for full-time benefits and it’s difficult to find someone willing to work overtime. Full-time employees can also become stagnant, so keeping employees motivated is something you should have in your management strategies.

Pros:

  • Stable and reliable

Cons:

  • Full-time benefits are costly
  • Difficult to find overtime workers
  • Employees can become stagnant

Part-time

A part-time work schedule often requires employees to work fewer hours than a full-time schedule. Hours vary every week: employees may work 2-3 days per week or take different shifts. They don’t have to be at work 8 hours a day for the whole week.

For example, a part-time schedule is Tuesday through Thursday from 1 pm to 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 7 am to 12 pm.

This type of work schedule is very common in restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores. It’s flexible for both employers and employees. Employers can find part-time workers to fill in shifts easier, while employees can choose shift times that are convenient for them.

However, creating part-time schedules takes a lot of work. Each employee has their own available time, so basically you have to create separate schedules for each of them.

Pros:

  • Easy to find employees & substitutes
  • Employees have flexibility in work hours

Cons:

  • Scheduling multiple employees can be time-consuming
a part-time worker is serving customers at the counter of a restaurant

Overtime

An overtime schedule is the extra hours an employee works beyond their total standard hours.

Businesses implement overtime to avoid understaffing during peak seasons. Some struggle with the hiring process or can’t afford extra workers at all. Others are simply in industries in which overtime has become the norm.

Overtime is necessary if your business is busy at certain hours (not all the time) or if your team is working on a big project. But overtime rates can be 1.5 times or double times regular rates, so keep your eyes on labor costs.

Pros:

  • Avoid understaffing & extra hiring

Cons:

  • Overtime rates are higher than regular rates

Shift

A shift work schedule is often used in businesses that open more than 10 hours a day or open on irregular hours.

Shift schedules for businesses that open 24/7 often include first shift, second shift, third shift (or night shift).

Shift work is flexible for employees who can’t commit to a conventional 9 to 5 schedule. However, since shift work includes early morning shifts, late night shifts, or longer shifts, it can cause fatigue or accidents. Consider the consequences of those irregular shifts on your employees and business costs. Shift planning can be time-consuming and complicated than schedules with fixed hours.

First shift

The first shift, also known as the day shift, begins in the morning and ends in the afternoon. The hours can be a standard 9 to 5, or 8 am to 4 pm, or 10 am to 7 pm.

Second shift

The second shift, also known as the swing shift, begins in the afternoon and ends around midnight. This shift will start after the first shift ends, so depending on each business, it can be from 5 pm to 1 am or 7 pm to 12 am.

Third shift

The third shift, also referred as the night shift, starts at around midnight and ends in the morning. For example, from 12 pm to 7 am or 1 am to 9 am.

Pros:

  • Flexible for businesses that open >10 hours a day or 24/7

Cons:

  • Irregular hours can have consequences on employees and business
  • Shift planning can be time-consuming and complicated

Fixed

A fixed work schedule has set day and set hours. The work days and work hours stay the same every week.

For example, an employee works from Wednesday to Sunday, from 8 am to 4 pm, every week. The standard work schedule is also a fixed schedule.

It’s easier to plan a fixed schedule and calculate labor costs because there aren’t many changes to make. You don’t have to create a new schedule from scratch every week. You can create a schedule template and use it until your business changes to a new schedule type.

Pros:

  • Easy for planning & calculating labor costs
  • Don’t have to create schedules from scratch

Cons:

  • May lack flexibility

Flex

Also known as flextime schedule and flexible schedule, a flex schedule allows employees to work at any time that is convenient for them as long as they fulfill their jobs.

Some businesses require employees to work on-site for a certain number of core hours or at a certain daily time block, then for the remaining hours, employees can work wherever they prefer.

Flex schedules are beneficial and convenient for staff, but contacting and gathering your team outside of on-site hours can be cumbersome.

Pros:

  • Flexible & convenient for employees

Cons:

  • Contacting and gathering employees can be cumbersome

Unpredictable

An unpredictable schedule changes from week to week, without any particular pattern. This schedule is quite common in the retail and food industry, where businesses constantly face fluctuating demands, shift timing changes, and shift cancelations.

Because of its nature, this work schedule is hard for both employers and staff. Schedulers need to create schedules from scratch every week and face the pressure of last-minute scheduling. Employees can’t plan ahead their life activities until they receive the latest schedules. Their income is also volatile due to inconsistent work hours.

Several US states have laws regulating unpredictable work schedules and even prohibiting them.

Pros:

  • Flexible for businesses facing fluctuating demands and last-minute changes

Cons:

  • Create schedules from scratch every week, sometimes last minute
  • Employees can’t plan their lives & earn volatile income
  • Some state laws regulate & prohibit unpredictable schedules

Seasonal

A seasonal work schedule is used only for a short period of time or a few months within the year. It’s very common for holidays and certain seasons, especially from November through December and the summer months. People looking for seasonal jobs are often students or those who want to find extra income.

It’s suitable for businesses with increasing demand during the holidays or businesses that operate within a certain time of the year. Keep in mind that hiring and training seasonal workers can be time-consuming and the effort put in may not be worth it.

Pros:

  • For holidays & certain seasons, for businesses with increasing demand

Cons:

  • Hiring & training temporary workers can be time-consuming
a seasonal worker is working on a winter day

Compressed

A compressed work schedule compresses the standard 40 hours per week into fewer workdays. Employees work longer hours on 3 or 4 workdays and get an extra day off weekly or biweekly.

For example, in a 9/80 work schedule, an employee works 9 hours from Monday to Friday, plus one 8-hour Friday, to get one extra day off every 2 weeks.

A compressed type of schedule can be a perk or a curse depending on whether your employees need it or not. Some love the extra day off while others resent working longer hours.

The most popular compressed schedules are 3/12 (3 workdays – 12 hours – 4 days off), 4/10 (4 workdays – 10 hours – 3 days off), and 9/80 (extra day off every other week).

12-hour shifts + 3-week cycle schedule

In this type of schedule, employees work 12-hour shifts. They’ll work 48 hours in the first week, 36 hours in the second week, and 48 hours in the third week. Then they get 4 extra days off every 3 weeks.

4/10 schedule (4/40)

A 4/10 schedule requires employees to work 4 days a week, 10 hours each day. They get 3 days off every week.

9/80 schedule

A 9/80 work schedule compresses 80 hours of work into 9 days instead of 10 days. In a typical 9/80 schedule, employees work 9 hours from Mon to Fri, 8 hours on Friday, and take an extra every other Friday off.

5-4/9 schedule

In this schedule, employees work 9 hours per day. It’s very similar to a 9/80 schedule, but the number of workdays per week will alternate between 5 and 4. For example, employees work 5 days for week 1 and work 4 days for week 2.

Pros:

  • Employees get extra days off.

Cons:

  • Employees work longer hours, which may cause fatigue and dissatisfaction.

Rotating

A rotating work schedule is one in which employees take turns working first shifts, second shifts, and third shifts (or night shifts). Employees rotate shifts weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly, depending on how each business operates.

Rotating shift schedules are common in healthcare, emergency, military, etc. because of the continuous, 24/7 nature of those industries. It helps companies and businesses operate around the clock without hiring unnecessary extra employees. But this type of schedule interferes with the sleep patterns and daily activities of employees, which can cause health problems and reduce engagement.

Pros:

  • Organizations & businesses can open 24/7 without hiring extra people

Cons:

  • Problems for employees’ health & life

Below are some common variations of rotating schedules:

Dupont rotating schedule

In a Dupont schedule, you divide your employees into 4 teams. Employees work 12-hour shifts, and the schedule operates on an 8-part cycle:

  • 4 night shifts
  • 3 days off
  • 3 day shifts
  • 1 day off
  • 3 night shifts
  • 3 days off
  • 4 day shifts
  • 7 days off

Pitman rotating schedule

In a Pitman schedule, you divide your employees into 4 teams. Employees work 12-hour shifts, and the schedule operates on a 4-week cycle:

  • 2 day shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 3 day shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 2 day shifts
  • 3 days off
  • 2 night shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 3 night shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 2 night shifts
  • 3 days off
video about how to create a Pitman rotating work schedule on Excel
Source: Shift work made easier

24-48 rotating schedule

In a 24-48 schedule, you divide your employees into 3 teams. Employees work 24-hour shifts, and the schedule operates on a 3-day cycle: employees work 1 day and take 2 days off.

2-2, 3-2, 2-3 rotating schedule

In a 2-2, 3-2, 2-3 schedule, you divide your employees into 4 teams. Employees work 12-hour shifts, and the schedule operates on a 2-week cycle:

  • 2 day shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 3 day shifts
  • 2 days off
  • 2 day shifts
  • 3 days off

4-3 rotating schedule

In a 4-3 schedule, you divide your employees into 6 teams. Employees work overlapping 10-hour shifts, and the schedule operates on a 3-week cycle:

  • 4 days on
  • 3 days off
  • 4 days on
  • 3 days off
  • 4 days on

Split

A split work schedule is one in which the work day is split into multiple blocks of hours.

For example, an employee works from 8 am to 12 pm, takes 3 hours off, then works from 3 pm to 6 pm. Another employee may work 3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon, and 2 hours in the evening.

A split schedule may be beneficial for some employees because they can use the off-time between the shifts to pick up their kids or solve personal issues. But due to extra commutes and the unpaid break between shifts, not many prefer this type of schedule.

Laws in some states may state the minimum amount of time between two split shifts.

Pros:

  • Employees can make use of the off-time between the shifts

Cons:

  • Extra commutes
  • Unpaid break between shifts
  • Laws may restrict the implementation of split shifts

On-call

An on-call schedule is one in which the employee is available to work at any time as the employer demands. Employees can be rotated to perform on-call responsibilities or they share on-call duties so no one has to work all the time.

Many businesses use this schedule type to prepare for emergencies, sudden absences, and no-call, no-shows. You can prepare a list of employees who are willing to work on-call.

Pros:

  • Prepare for emergencies, sudden absences, and no-call, no-shows

Cons:

  • Need employees who are willing to work on-call

Alternate

An alternate work schedule is the alternative to the schedule type commonly used in your business. It’s often used when employees can’t follow the main schedule due to special needs such as family issues or pregnancy.

Some alternate work schedule options are a slight variation of the main schedule. Some can require you to hire a replacement to cover the hours that the original employee vacates. So employers have more work to do when implementing this type of schedule.

Pros:

  • Accommodate special needs of employees

Cons:

  • Employers have to implement another type of schedule, more admin work

Freelance

In a freelance schedule, freelancers get to choose when they work as long as they deliver their results within the time specified. You don’t have to go through the scheduling process.

If you work with freelancers, then a freelance schedule is unavoidable. Because you don’t have much control over employees’ working time, it’s best to find someone who is reliable enough to deliver their results on time.

Pros:

  • Employers don’t have to go through the scheduling process
  • Employees have flexibility & freedom

Cons:

  • Need to find reliable employees

No set schedule

No set schedule means the employee has the freedom to choose when to work as long as they get the job done. This type of schedule differs from the freelance schedule in that employees often report to an office or management to perform their work.

This type of work schedule gives employees the ultimate flexibility and freedom in their work. They can finish their tasks earlier to get one extra day off, take care of personal issues whenever they like, and choose the optimal time to work. This leads to increased job satisfaction and morale. But you need clear metrics and expectations to evaluate the progress and performance of employees.

Pros:

  • Employees have the freedom to choose when to work
  • Increased employee satisfaction & morale

Cons:

  • Need to find reliable employees
  • Need clear metrics and expectations to evaluate employee’s progress and performance

Which type of work schedule is suitable for your business?

All types of work schedules have their pros and cons. To select the best type of work schedule for your business, consider your business needs and your employee needs.

3 tips to help you implement your work schedule easier:

  1. Craft your schedule policy so it complies with the local, federal, and state laws.
  2. Communicate your schedule policy to employees so they know what they’re expected to do.
  3. Learn how to create a work schedule & set up a scheduling system that is effective and accessible.

Manage any types of work schedules with Camelo

Camelo makes managing all types of work schedules easier with multiple tools for scheduling & tracking work hours. You can:

  • Create recurring shifts and copy work schedules from week to week, so you don’t have to create schedules from scratch every time.
  • Schedule with availability, time-off requests & shift swap requests visible.
  • Offer open shifts that employees can decide and pick the time they want to work.
  • Employees receive notifications when they’re assigned new shifts, when open shifts & shift offers & shift swaps are available

Whatever types of work schedules you use, once you’ve set up a schedule for your employees, you can use other tools on Camelo to track work hours and attendance, communicate with employees, and process payroll.

Start using Camelo for free today.

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