Business Tips··8 min read

What is a Rotating Schedule and How Does it Work in Practice?

rotating schedule

Have you ever heard of a rotating schedule? Perhaps you're already considering implementing it in your workplace?

We'll break down how rotating shifts actually work and take a look at why they might be a game-changer for your team's productivity and happiness.

What is a rotating work schedule?

A rotating schedule, often called a rotating shift schedule, involves employees working different shifts on a regular basis. 

This could include day shifts, evening shifts, and night shifts. The purpose is to distribute work hours fairly among employees and maintain continuous operations. 

Calculating it involves determining the number of hours each employee works in different shifts over a specified period, ensuring they fulfill their required hours while accommodating shift variations. 

For example, if a schedule rotates every week, calculate the total hours worked in each shift per week for each employee.

rotating schedule

What are the advantages of the rotating shift?

If you're thinking about using a rotating schedule in your workplace, here are the good things that are waiting for you:

Variety and diversity

A rotating schedule introduces variety in work hours, tasks, and team interactions. Thanks to that, it's easy to prevent monotony and promote a diverse work experience.

Employee engagement

It can enhance team collaboration and employee engagement. This is because it provides a mix of daytime, evening, and weekend shifts. As such, it accommodates different preferences and lifestyles.

Skill development

Employees can acquire a broader skill set as they engage with different aspects of the job during various shifts. The result? Contributing to professional development and fostering teamwork become a breeze.

Work-life balance for some

For some individuals, a rotating schedule can facilitate a better work-life balance, especially if they have personal commitments that align better with certain shifts. This type of schedule can provide flexibility for employees to work when it suits them best.

The rotating schedule

Optimized resource utilization

Rotating schedules can be beneficial for businesses that operate continuously. That's because it provides better utilization of resources and minimizes downtime. Many people working different shifts contribute to the continuous functioning of the business.

What are the disadvantages of the rotating shift?

However, like any other, this type of working schedule also has its disadvantages. 

Among the top are:

Disruption to circadian rhythms

Frequent changes in work hours can disrupt your employees' circadian rhythms. This can lead to sleep disturbances, fatigue, and potential negative impacts on health. Shifts may affect an employee's ability to maintain a regular workday.

Challenges in social life

Employees on rotating schedules may find it challenging to maintain social connections and participate in regular activities because of the constantly changing work hours. Social activities outside of work may be impacted by the unpredictability of the schedule.

Increased stress levels

Coping with the physical and mental demands of a rotating schedule can contribute to increased stress levels. Affects both the well-being and performance of employees. The stress associated with these schedules may impact how well your employees get along and collaborate as a team.

rotating schedules

Communication and collaboration issues

Coordinating communication and collaboration among your team members who work different shifts can be challenging. In this case, misunderstandings and decreased efficiency are likely to occur. The schedule could hinder effective teamwork and communication, so be mindful of that.

Reduced predictability

Predicting work schedules in advance becomes difficult with rotating schedules. For employees, it gets challenging to plan personal and family commitments. 

This lack of predictability can impact how well your employees get organized for both work and personal responsibilities.

Higher turnover rates

The demanding nature of rotating schedules may contribute to higher turnover rates, as some employees may seek more stable and predictable work environments. 

Many people may find it challenging to adapt to the uncertainties that this type of schedule gives rise to.

💡 While a rotating schedule offers benefits such as variety, skill development, and optimized resource utilization, it comes with challenges related to employee well-being, work-life balance, and effective teamwork. 

You must carefully weigh these factors and consider the nature of your business and workforce before implementing a rotating schedule. Employees may have different preferences, and a thoughtful approach is necessary to balance the advantages and disadvantages of this scheduling system.

The types of rotating schedules

There are several types of rotating work schedules, and they are designed to meet the needs of different industries, organizations, and employee preferences.

Here are some popular types:

Fixed shift rotation

Employees work a fixed set of shifts that rotate regularly.

Example: a week of morning shifts followed by a week of afternoon shifts.

Pitman shift schedule

In the Pitman schedule, shifts rotate forward, often in a pattern of morning, afternoon, and night shifts.

Example: morning shifts on week one, afternoon shifts on week two, night shifts on week three.

DuPont shift schedule

When it comes to the DuPont schedule, there typically are four crews with a repeating pattern of day shifts and night shifts.

Example: 4 days on the day shift, followed by 3 days off, then 4 days on the night shift.

Panama shift schedule

Employees work both day and night shifts in a short cycle.

Example: two days of morning shifts, followed by two days of night shifts.

2-2-3 rotation

A 2-2-3 rotating schedule occurs when employees work two consecutive days, followed by two days off, and then three consecutive days.

Example: work Monday and Tuesday, off Wednesday and Thursday, work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

4-3 ten-hour rotation

Employees work four days in a row, followed by three days off, with each shift being ten hours.

Example: work Monday to Thursday, off Friday to Sunday.

Continuous crewing

A continuous operation with multiple crews working in shifts.

Example: 24/7 operations with three or four crews working 8 or 12-hour shifts.

💡 These schedules offer flexibility and variations to accommodate different work environments and employee preferences. The choice of a rotating schedule depends on factors such as industry requirements, employee work-life balance, and operational needs.

Which industries use the rotating schedule?

Rotating schedules, depending on the exact form, are commonly used in various industries. 

Have a look yourself:

Pitman schedule industries

Examples: manufacturing plants, healthcare facilities, and call centers.

Usage: to ensure continuous operations, especially in industries that run 24/7.

Fixed schedule industries

Examples: traditional offices, administrative roles, and government offices.

Usage: common in standard office settings where employees work a consistent 9-to-5 schedule.

DuPont schedule industries

Examples: chemical plants, emergency services, and utility operations.

Usage: for industries that require extended periods of continuous operation.

4-3 schedule industries

Examples: retail, hospitality, and some manufacturing.

Usage: provides a balance between work and off days, commonly seen in service-oriented industries.

Eight-hour shift industries

Examples: manufacturing, healthcare, customer service.

Usage: common in various sectors, offering a standard workday structure.

24-hour shift industries

Examples: emergency services, utilities, and some manufacturing.

Usage: essential for industries that demand continuous operation throughout the day.

💡 In short, different industries adopt rotating schedules based on their operational needs.

  • Pitman schedules are prevalent in continuous operations.
  • Fixed schedules are good in traditional office environments.
  • DuPont schedules are suitable for extended operations.
  • 4-3 schedules are a good fit for service industries.
  • Eight-hour shifts are applicable in various sectors.
  • 24-hour shifts are a nice match for industries that require constant vigilance.

Teamwork is integral in all these schedules to maintain efficiency, employee well-being, and seamless transitions.

How to create a rotating shift schedule 

Are you curious about how you can create your own rotating schedule? Here is how.

Choose the type of rotating schedule

Take a moment to figure out what type of rotating shifts would work best for your crew. Consider factors like workload and the preferences of your awesome team.

Explore Unrubble's scheduling features

Take advantage of Unrubble's powerful scheduling features, including schemas and drag-and-drop functionality. Familiarize yourself with the platform's capabilities to make the scheduling process efficient.

Rotating shift schedule

Use Unrubble for teamwork

Leverage Unrubble's real-time notifications to enhance team communication. Ensure that updates, shift changes, and other important information are synchronized, keeping everyone on the same page and promoting effective teamwork.

Incorporate different types of rotating shifts

If your business requires various types of rotating shifts, use Unrubble to accommodate these needs. Whether it's day shifts, evening shifts, or night shifts, Unrubble provides the flexibility to create a schedule that works for everyone.

Set up automatic scheduling with Unrubble

Utilize Unrubble's automatic scheduling capabilities to streamline the process. From finding templates to assigning shifts, defining breaks, and allocating employees, Unrubble's automation reduces the time and effort traditionally associated with manual scheduling.

Customize schedules based on employee preferences

Unrubble allows for flexible scheduling, letting you customize shifts based on employee preferences. Whether they prefer day shifts or specific days off, Unrubble helps you create schedules that suit both the needs of the business and the preferences of the employees.

Enhance communication through Unrubble

Promote team collaboration and communication by utilizing Unrubble's comprehensive features. From shift notes to instant notifications, Unrubble ensures that employees are well-informed and connected. This tool is ideal for facilitating seamless communication within the team.

Optimize workday shifts

With Unrubble, optimize shifts effortlessly. The software's scheduling wingman feature and smart scheduling capabilities make it easier to plan and manage working days efficiently.

Use Unrubble's mobile app

Take advantage of Unrubble's free mobile app for convenient access to schedules and easy shift swaps. This ensures that employees can manage their schedules and collaborate with the team, even when on the go.

Monitor and adjust with Unrubble

Regularly monitor the effectiveness of the rotating schedule using Unrubble's tracking and reporting features. Make adjustments as needed to ensure optimal workforce management and employee satisfaction.

Consider employee well-being

Keep in mind the impact of the rotating schedule on employee well-being. Unrubble's user-friendly interface and transparent communication features contribute to a positive work environment. As such, we minimize the potential disadvantages associated with rotating schedules.

Make the switch and Unrubble your scheduling process

Move from the old-fashioned manual scheduling method to Unrubble's automated approach. Experience the difference in speed, efficiency, and team satisfaction as you make the switch to Unrubble's innovative scheduling solution. Sign up for Unrubble today - it's free.

💡 By following these steps and using Unrubble's features, you can create and manage a rotating shift schedule that benefits both your business and your team.

Rotating shift schedules

Looking to create an employee shift schedule? Try our free template available here.

Make a rotating schedule work easily

Remember that a rotating schedule may work for you wonderfully. Just follow our guide and you'll be set up for success. 

If you'd like to explore other work schedules, be sure to check out our blog. And moreover - give Unrubble a try to improve your schedules.

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