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Work Schedule Types: 21 Different Types of Work Schedules, Its Importance & How to Create One

A work schedule is the foundational aspect of human resource management. Still, many businesses need help deciding which shift schedule will suit their goals.

Simply put, a work schedule outlines when employees are expected to work to ensure that businesses operate smoothly and that staff members maintain a work-life balance. Different work schedule types cater to various industries, business needs, and employee preferences.

This article explores 21 types of work schedules and the nuances of creating an effective employee schedule.

1. Full-time work schedules

The most common and widely recognized full-time work schedule requires employees to commit to a 40-hour workweek. The full-time work schedule is a norm in many industries and includes several benefits.

In addition to regular pay, a full-time employee is expected to receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. It is the most suitable option for individuals seeking long-term employment with a single employer.

2. Part-time work schedules

A part-time work schedule allows employees to work less than full-time work hours. How much less depends on the job role and employers, but usually, a part-time program is for less than 30-35 hours per week. Such a work schedule may require employees to work a few hours every working day or for 8 hours a day for 2-3 days a week.

Part-time work schedule is prevalent in businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops. Part-time employees may have flexible work hours and are usually not entitled to the same benefits as full-time employees.

3. Fixed schedules

A fixed work schedule is typically touted as a ‘9 to 5’ routine as it involves regular, unchanging work hours and days from week to week. Due to its strict adherence to fixed timing, every day makes it easier for employees to plan personal activities and commitments around work.

However, lack of schedule flexibility makes this work schedule challenging for some businesses.

4. Flexible schedules

A flexible work schedule is one in which businesses allow employees to adjust their work hours to manage their commitments better. For instance, a company can allow its employees to report early to avoid rush hour traffic.

A flexible work schedule gives employees control over when they start and end their workday or the ability to work remotely. It improves their work-life balance.

5. Rotating shift schedules

Rotating shift schedules are commonly implemented by businesses that require 24/7 shift coverage, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and public safety. Employees alternate between different shifts in a rotating shift schedule, including day, evening, and night shifts.

While rotating shifts allow businesses to ensure continuous operation, they can disrupt employees’ circadian rhythms and personal lives due to constantly changing work hours.

6. Split shift schedules

A split shift schedule is when a workday is divided into two distinct segments with a significant break in between. It is usually used in industries where attentiveness and a well-rested workforce are prioritized.

For example, a bus driver can be scheduled for a morning shift, have an extended break during the day, and then return to work for the evening shift.

7. Seasonal schedules

A seasonal work schedule is to meet the fluctuation in demand in some industries during some particular time of the year. Usually, the seasonal work schedule includes holidays (November and December) and summer (June, July, and August).

Mostly, the tourism and agriculture sectors employ seasonal workers during specific seasons when they require additional labor. Employees working seasonal schedules may have temporary employment contracts with varying hours during busy and slow seasons.

8. On-call schedules

On-call work schedules allow employees to be available anytime, day or night, when the employer calls. Employees are only designated to be available on call duty, but it usually involves a whole team, so no one employee is always working.

For on-call work schedules, employees are typically compensated for their availability with additional pay. This type of schedule is common in fields such as healthcare, emergency services, and technical support.

9. Compressed schedules

A compressed work schedule is gaining traction as a popular ‘4-day work week’ concept. This schedule allows employees to work more than 8 hours daily to complete their 40 hours or as agreed work hours in fewer days.

A typical example is the “4/10” schedule, where employees work four 10-hour days and have three days off. The extended off days are lucrative for employees as they can reduce commuting time and costs.

10. Freelance schedules

Freelance schedules are for independent contractors where they are offered complete autonomy to set their work hours and select the projects they work on. Freelancers often require flexible schedules to balance multiple clients and personal commitments.

11. Dupont shift schedule

Companies that require 24/7 operation, such as manufacturing and chemical processing, implement the Dupont shift schedule. It involves a rotating shift pattern with 12-hour shifts, where employees work days and nights.

However, the shifts are structured as four-night shifts before having three days off, followed by three-day shifts, then a day off, and finally, three-night shifts and a week off.

12. Overtime schedule

Overtime schedule is not a different type of shift schedule; it refers to additional hours worked beyond the regular hours. Overtime employees receive extra pay, often 1.5x or double their regular wage rate.

13. Irregular work schedule

An irregular work schedule doesn’t follow a structure and allows employees to work irregular shifts such as multiple night shifts, a mix of day or night, or just day shifts.

While an irregular work schedule offers a lot of flexibility for employees, it can create challenges in planning, work hour tracking, and payroll for employers.

14. Alternative work schedule

Alternative work schedules offer employees the option to alternate between different schedules. An employee may work on second or third shift or work only on weekends.

For example, an employee can work from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or work from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. .

This arrangement allows employees to tailor their schedules to their needs. This kind of work schedule is particularly ideal for working parents, students, etc.

15. 9/80 schedule

The 9/80 schedule compresses the traditional 40-hour workweek into nine workdays within two weeks. An employee works for four 9-hour shifts for one week followed by an 8-hour shift, and then in the second week, they work for another 4 days for 9 hours and have three days off.

This way, employees get to work for 40 hours a week and still enjoy a long weekend every two weeks.

16. Pitman shift schedule

Another type of shift schedule offering 24/7 coverage for businesses, the Pitman shift schedule splits the workforce into four teams. Each team follows a 2-2-3 rotation- two days on, two days off, three days on, two days off, two days on, three days off.

17. Flex work schedule

A flex work schedule ensures that employees are available for a set number of hours during the day, while they are free to work at their discretion for the rest of the shift hours.

For instance, a restaurant can make it mandatory for employees to be present at work from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and then they can work in the afternoon or at night.

18. 2-2-3 shift schedule

The 2-2-3 shift schedule is a rotating shift pattern offering 24/7 coverage. In this type of work schedule, employees work two consecutive days on one shift, two days on a different shift, and then have three days off. It rotates between day and night shifts.

19. 4-10 shift schedule

As the name suggests, this shift schedule requires employees to work four 10-hour days weekly. The benefit for employees is a 3-day weekend.

20. Remote work schedule

A remote work schedule allows employees to work from a location other than the office, typically from home or another remote location. Remote work schedules can be flexible to accommodate any time-zone differences or personal commitments.

21. Hybrid work schedule

A hybrid work schedule is one of the most popular types of schedule post-pandemic. It allows employees to alternate between working on-site at the office and remotely from home.

As different types of work schedules are in high demand, this schedule offers the benefits of in-person collaboration and remote work flexibility.

How do you create employee work schedules?

Now that you understand the different types of shift schedules, it is crucial to know how a well-thought and balanced work schedule is created. Follow these steps:

1. Identify resources

The planning of work schedule types depends significantly on available resources. The number of employees, their skills, and their availability. Identifying available resources will help decide which type of schedule, part-time and full-time, is viable financially.

2. List down needs for every shift category

Next, you need to list the requirements for each schedule. Effective scheduling is not just about timing but also about matching the right skills with the role. That’s why you need to understand each shift’s specific roles, skills, and responsibilities. Then, you can put the right employees in the right shifts.

3. Anticipate demand

Anticipating demands for work schedules requires analyzing historical data, seasonal variations, and market trends to estimate how many employees are needed during specific periods. Therefore, consider busy and slow seasons when making decisions about work schedule types.

4. Collect employee preferences

Work schedules only prove to be effective and efficient if there is participation from employees. When deciding, ask for their feedback and consider their preferred work hours, days off, and any personal commitments. Inevitably, you will only be able to meet some preferences, but making an effort to accommodate employees can improve morale.

5. Review past schedules

Remember to analyze previous work schedules to identify areas for improvement. Particularly, look for instances of overstaffing or understaffing and feedback from employees. Learning from past schedules can help you make better decisions.

6. Create a plan for replacement

The work schedule types are varied, and finding the most productive work schedule for your business may take trial and error. That’s why you need a contingency plan to cover for fallouts such as unavailable employees or other unforeseen circumstances.

7. Research laws

A critical consideration when scheduling employees is ensuring you comply with labor laws, regulations, and employment contracts. Be aware of federal, state, and local rules regarding overtime, rest periods, and mandatory breaks. Compliance is crucial to avoid legal issues and protect employee rights.

8. Use a schedule maker

Scheduling tools like Truein can greatly help automate the scheduling process. These tools can help streamline the scheduling process, reduce errors, and optimize shift assignments based on employee availability and skills.

Truein is a cloud-based time and attendance software that offers robust scheduling features. It has over 70 customizable policy templates to accommodate any shift or employment type.

9. Publish the schedule

Once the schedule is complete, it’s time to publish and ensure it is easily accessible to all employees. Again, Truein can be of great help as it allows easy access to shift schedules. Employers can check their assigned shifts anytime from anywhere using the Truein app.

Transparency and clear communication are essential to smoothly implementing any work schedule.

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Why is creating a work schedule important?

1. Improved employee retention

Well-structured work schedules considering employees’ needs and preferences result in higher job satisfaction and improved employee retention. Employees who feel that their work hours align better with their personal lives are more likely to stay with the organization long-term.

2. Improved employee productivity

One of the goals of different types of shift schedules is to minimize downtime and ensure that employees are available and engaged during their assigned work hours.

Well-thought shift schedules allow employees to take enough rest and clarity to plan their tasks efficiently, resulting in improved productivity and output.

3. Guaranteed 24/7 staffing

Effective scheduling ensures that employees are always available to meet the business’s demands, maintain service levels, and respond to customer needs.

4. Effective payroll management

Creating accurate work schedules is vital for managing payroll efficiently. Such schedules allow easy and precise documentation of work hours and overtime calculations. It helps prevent payroll errors and ensures that employees are compensated correctly.

5. Reduced work stress

Work schedules that are predictable and considerate of employee preferences can help reduce work-related stress. When employees have clarity regarding their work hours, they can plan their commitments accordingly. Also, it ensures that employees are well-rested.

6. Satisfactory work-life balance

An effective work schedule allows employees to maintain a work-life balance, leading to higher job satisfaction. When employees can better manage their personal and family commitments, it fosters a healthier balance between their professional and personal lives.


Work schedule types are many, and choosing the most effective one for your business requires planning. Follow the steps in this guide and adopt the best practices for creating shift schedules.

A well-thought-out work schedule balances business demands and employee needs and can improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and overall efficiency.


1. What are the benefits of work scheduling?

Work scheduling ensures improved employee retention, increased productivity, 24/7 staffing coverage, efficient payroll management, reduced work-related stress, and a satisfactory work-life balance.

2. What elements should be included in a work schedule?

Work hours, shift assignments, break times, and days off are crucial elements of any practical work schedule.

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