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15 Types of Work Schedules with Examples

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7 min read
work schedules

Traditional shifts are, for the most part, still hugely popular. But over the years, we’ve seen new employee work schedules emerge across various industries as the ever-evolving workforce seeks more flexibility in their workweek, with employers keen to provide it. In fact, 80% of employees would turn down employment offers that don’t include flexible working.

Adapting your company’s work schedules to meet specific parameters can not only give your company a competitive edge but also fuel productivity and boost employee satisfaction. Yet, managing a diverse array of schedules can create a logistical challenge, especially when your team members follow different routines.

To navigate this complexity, it’s crucial to understand different work schedules and select the most suitable options for your company and workforce. The following 15 schedules are among the most prevalent, providing a diverse range of choices that cater to the needs of nearly every business out there.

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1) Fixed Work Schedule

Embracing a fixed work schedule means having a consistent routine with designated days and hours of work each week. However, unlike the traditional Monday-to-Friday setup, the beauty of this schedule lies in its flexibility to span different days. For example, you might find yourself working from Tuesday to Saturday or Sunday to Thursday.

For specific roles, fixed schedules can also be part-time, but you’ll still have set working days and hours. The key difference is that your weekly working hours will be less than the standard 35 hours required for full-time contracts. Despite this, many employers favour fixed schedules owing to the ease it brings to long-term planning, streamlining operations for the workforce and the organisation.

2) Flexible Work Schedules

When considering a job with a flexible work schedule, it most likely implies the possibility of a hybrid work model. This arrangement may entail some in-office days with remote work for part of the week.

If you’d prefer a balance between remote work and office presence without committing to a full workweek at the office, this work schedule can prove beneficial. This way, you can explore the benefits of remote work while maintaining the opportunity for in-person collaboration and social interaction in the workplace. That said, specific organisations view this type of work schedule as an employee perk, which becomes accessible only after a specific amount of employment.

barista on overtime schedule

3) Compressed Work Schedule

A compressed schedule allows you to work the same total hours as full-time employees but with fewer days in the office each week. For instance, you might work four days a week, clocking in for 10 hours each day from morning to evening, or 3 days a week clocking in for 12 hours each day. While it’s longer days, this schedule allows employees to take an extra day off every week to dedicate to their personal life.

If your organisation is comfortable with the prospect of longer workdays, a compressed schedule is a fantastic way to strike a strong work-life balance without compromising productivity.

4) Rotating Shift Work Schedule

A rotating schedule is a type of work schedule where, instead of adhering to a fixed and consistent routine, employees work different shifts or schedules that change over a specified period, such as weekly or monthly. This means your team members may work morning shifts for a certain number of days or only a few months, switch to evening shifts, and later work night shifts, cycling through various time slots. The rotation could be in a clockwise or counterclockwise pattern, depending on your organisation’s needs and the nature of the job.

This type of schedule is common in industries that require continuous operations or 24/7 services, such as hospitals, manufacturing plants, call centres, or public safety services. They guarantee the workload is distributed evenly among employees and that operations can be maintained around the clock.

5) Part-Time Work Schedule

Part-time employees typically work fewer than the standard 35-40 hours per week. There is no exact number of hours worked in a part-time schedule, but according to OECD data, it typically falls within 30 weekly hours or less. These contracts are often chosen by employees who require more time for personal commitments and the ability to balance work with other responsibilities. But this would, in turn, mean fewer benefits and different employment rights compared to their full-time counterparts.

As an employer, part-time schedules offer cost-effective solutions for managing staffing needs, especially during times of fluctuating workloads or seasonal demands, while at the same time giving you a secure contract with a new, reliable team member.

Night shift

6) Full-Time Work Schedule

In the UK, around 25 million people hold a full-time contract, i.e. a standard and consistent set of working hours typically followed by an employee during a regular workweek. It commonly consists of 35 to 40 hours per week, spread across five days, from Monday to Friday, with some occasional weekend or overtime hours.

With a full-time contract, your team members will also have long-term stability and financial security and are entitled to various benefits, such as paid leave, health insurance, and retirement plans.

7) Remote Work Schedule

A remote work schedule refers to a flexible arrangement where employees perform their job duties from a location outside the traditional office setting. Instead of commuting to the workplace, remote employees work from home, in co-working spaces, or any desired location. That said, this schedule may still adhere to standard working hours or be more flexible, depending on the nature of the job and business requirements.

Remote work schedules offer several advantages to companies, including increased access to a broader talent pool, reduced overhead costs, enhanced productivity, and improved employee satisfaction.

8) Shift-Based Work Schedule

If your business runs longer than the standard eight or ten hours a day, shift work is likely in the cards. Shift-based work schedules may include rotating shifts, but they can also include fixed shifts where employees consistently work the same shift every day or week

Shift-based work can come in 12-hour shifts as well. Think of the Dupont schedule, granting seven days off each month, or the Pitman shift schedule, where one works more than three consecutive days. Do keep in mind, though, that with rotating shifts, some weeks might demand more than 40 hours, leading to overtime costs.

9) On-Call Work Schedule

Sometimes, employees must be available and ready to respond to work-related tasks at various times. For instance, tech businesses might need to be on-call for weekend affairs or after-hours client support. And during this on-call period, employees remain accessible by phone, email, or other means of communication to promptly address any urgent issues.

The on-call schedule is common across IT support, emergency services, delivery companies and other technical fields. But this schedule does not hold any specific frequency or duration. Some employees may be on-call for specific days or weekends, while others may have longer rotations, such as a week or month. While it may prove tiresome for team members long-term, these hours spent are compensated through additional pay if it’s after-hours, compensatory time off or a combination of both.

10) Staggered Work Schedule

Staggered work schedules have employees engage in different starting and ending times for their workday. Instead of the traditional 9-to-5 schedule, teams are typically divided into multiple groups, or “shifts,” each with designated start and end times.

For example, one group of employees might start their workday at 7:00 AM and finish at 3:00 PM, while another group might start at 9:00 AM and finish at 5:00 PM. The goal is for there to be sufficient coverage during core business hours, while still allowing employees to have some flexibility in determining their specific work hours.

11)  4/10 Work Schedule

A 4/10 work schedule is a compressed work schedule where employees explicitly work four days a week, each day consisting of ten hours. Instead of the traditional five-day workweek with eight-hour shifts or a more flexible alternative, a 4/10 schedule is a fixed schedule that condenses the total number of working days while extending the daily working hours. This arrangement allows employees to fulfil their weekly working hours (40 hours) within four days instead of five, with a set roster of team members you can rely on long-term.

12) 9/80 Work Schedule

A 9/80 work schedule involves 14 days where employees work nine-hour days for eight days, followed by one eight-hour day, which may be split into two four-hour work days. In that case, the first week typically ends with a 4-hour shift, and the second week starts with a 4-hour shift. This type of work schedule allows employees to decide when they would rather take their day off so that instead of a whole day off after a fortnight, you alternatively could choose to take a half day each week.

This schedule allows employees to work 80 hours over a two-week period while still adhering to the standard 40-hour workweek, with employers splitting one of the days into two 4-hour shifts for payroll purposes.

13) Shift Swapping and Self-Scheduling

Shift swapping and self-scheduling are flexible work arrangements that empower employees to take more control over their work hours. In shift swapping, employees can exchange shifts with their colleagues to accommodate personal needs or preferences, such as appointments or family commitments. It’s a voluntary exchange that creates flexibility without disrupting workflow or requiring managerial intervention.

On the other hand, self-scheduling allows employees to choose their work hours within set parameters defined by the employer so that they can align their work schedules with their peak productivity hours or personal obligations.

14) Annualised Hours Work Schedule

Switching to annualised hours means you are scheduling your team’s working time and pay based on annual rather than weekly parameters. Unlike traditional contracts specifying weekly or daily hours, an annualised hours contract outlines the total hours an employee must work over a year.

These schedules are particularly beneficial in industries with fluctuating workloads or seasonal demands, allowing employers to adapt workforce hours based on business needs. Employees receive their salary in equal instalments throughout the year, providing a more consistent income despite varying working hours. The flexibility of annualised hours work schedules benefits both employers, who can efficiently manage staffing levels, and employees, who enjoy greater work-life balance and a steady income stream.

15) Results-Only Work Environments (ROWE)

If you’re considering a bigger company shift beyond work schedules, a results-only work environment (ROWE) could be your answer. ROWE is a company management practice that focuses solely on measuring and valuing employee performance based on their results rather than the number of hours they work or their physical presence in the office. 

In a ROWE, employees are free to choose when and where they work as long as they meet their performance goals and deliver the desired outcomes. This means team members can manage their own schedules and work in ways that suit their productivity peaks, personal preferences, and life demands. It puts outcomes over inputs and prioritises employee flexibility, autonomy, and accountability.

Sergio is a seasoned copy and content writer who has worked directly with company founders, CMOs, brand executives, and marketing directors from multiple industries. He's an HR geek and humble terpsichorean.

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