24 Hour Shift Schedule: Tips and examples

In today's busy world, many industries must work around the clock to meet the demands of their customers. To ensure continuous operations, many companies operate 24 hours shift schedules, where employees work in different shifts 24/7.
13. February 2023  • 6 minute read
This type of schedule has already been critical in industries such as healthcare, public safety, manufacturing, and transportation. However, nowadays it has become relevant in industries such as retail and hospitality as well. In this blog, we give an overview of the different types of 24-hour shift schedules, along with their advantages, disadvantages, and real-life examples of industries that use them.

Different types of 24 hour shift schedules

  • 4-on 4-off Schedule
  • 2-2-3 Work Schedule
  • DuPont Schedule
  • 4-on 3-off Schedule
  • Continental Shift Pattern

4-on 4-off Schedule

The 4-on 4-off schedule is one of the most commonly used 24/7 schedules. As the name suggests, employees work for four consecutive days, followed by four consecutive days off. This schedule is often used in industries that require continuous coverage, such as hospitals and public safety.


The 4-on 4-off schedule allows employees to have a predictable work schedule, as they know when they will be working and when they will have time off. Additionally, it provides employees with longer periods of time off, which they can use to rest and recharge.


The 4-on 4-off schedule can be demanding for employees, as they work for four consecutive days and then have four consecutive days off. This can lead to fatigue, stress, and burnout.


This type of schedule is widely used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, where employees need to work in shifts to provide continuous care to patients. It is also used in the public safety industry, where employees need to be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Here is an example of the 4-on-4 off-shift pattern:

D = Day shift
N = Night shift
O = Rest day.





2-2-3 Work Schedule

The 2-2-3 schedule is a variation of the 4-on 4-off schedule. In this schedule, employees work for two consecutive days, followed by two consecutive days off, then work for three consecutive days, followed by three consecutive days off.


The 2-2-3 schedule provides employees with a better work-life balance, as they have shorter working periods followed by longer periods of time off. This schedule is also less demanding compared to the 4-on 4-off schedule, as employees have more time to rest and recharge.


The 2-2-3 schedule can be confusing for employees, as their work schedule changes every week. This can lead to difficulty in planning and managing their personal life.


This type of schedule is commonly used in industries that require continuous coverage, such as hospitals and public safety. It is also used in transportation, where employees need to work in shifts to ensure round-the-clock operations.

Here is an example of a 2-2-3 work schedule:

D = Day shift
N = Night shift
O = Rest day.





The DuPont Schedule

The DuPont schedule, named after the company DuPont, is a rotating shift schedule that alternates between four teams of employees in a four-week cycle. Each team works an amount of 14 12 hour shifts equally divided between day and night shifts.


The main advantage of the Dupont schedule is that employees get an extended period of time off, which can help with work-life balance and reduce fatigue. Additionally, this schedule may be easier to manage than other 24/7 schedules as it only requires three different crews.


It can be difficult for employees to adjust to the changing schedule and the long periods of work can lead to increased stress and burnout.


The Dupont schedule is commonly used in industries such as manufacturing plants, and transportation.

Here is an example of the DuPont schedule:

D = Day shift
N = Night shift
O = Rest day.





The 4-on 3-off Schedule

The 4-on 3-off schedule involves working four consecutive days, followed by three consecutive days off. This cycle repeats itself every 21 days and teams rotate between day, swing, and night shifts.


One of the advantages of the 4-on 3-off schedule is that employees get a relatively long period of time off, which has a positive impact on their work-life balance. Additionally, this schedule is relatively straightforward and easy to manage.


Due to the changes in working hours on weekly basis it can be hard for employees to built a consistent sleeping pattern.


The 4-on 3-off schedule is commonly used in industries such as manufacturing plants, transportation, and healthcare.

Here is an example of the 4-on 3-off Schedule:

D = Day shift (1:00 AM - 11:00 AM)
S = Swing shift (11:00 AM - 9:00 PM)
N = Night shift (3:00 PM - 1:00 AM)
O = Rest day.

Team 1:

Team 2:

Team 3:

Team 4:

Team 5:

Team 6:

The Continental Shift Pattern

The continental shift schedule usually involves 4 teams that work 2 morning shifts, 2 swing shifts days, 2 night shifts, followed by 2 days off. To give an example, an employee who works the early shift on Monday can work the swing shift on Wednesday and the late shift on Friday.


The shift duration (8 hours) in the continental shift pattern is shorter than most other 24 hour schedules and therefore provides more time off on a working day.


Because the shifts in the continuous shift pattern are shorter, there are more days to be worked. Thus, this results in fewer days off.


The continental shift pattern is often used in industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and retail. 

Here is an example of the Continental Shift Pattern:

D = Day shift
S = Swing shift
N = Night shift
O = Rest day.

Team 1:

Team 2:

Team 3:

Team 4:

Before you decide on your 24 hour shift schedule

When deciding on a 24/7 shift schedule, there are several important factors to consider:

Workload and staffing levels

It's important to determine the workload and staffing needs of your company to determine the best shift schedule. For example, if you need a lot of staff during certain hours, you may want to choose a schedule that allows you to have more staff available during those times. Also, make sure that you have enough staff available to run the schedule you prefer.

Employee preferences

You may want to survey your employees to see what kind of schedule they would prefer. Some employees may prefer a schedule that allows them to work during the day, while others may prefer an evening or night shift.

Differences in work shifts

It's important to understand the differences between day shifts, swing shifts, and night shifts. Day shifts are typically considered to be the standard work schedule, taking place between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Swing shifts usually start around 4:00 PM and end around midnight. Night shifts, on the other hand, take place overnight and usually start around midnight and end around 8:00 AM.

Compliance with labor laws

It's important to ensure that your shift schedule complies with local labor laws and regulations, such as minimum break requirements and maximum working hours.

The costs

Certain shift schedules may have a higher cost, for example, if you need to pay for additional staff or provide more benefits for employees who work night shifts.


Consider how flexible the shift schedule is and whether it can accommodate changes in workload, employee absences, and other unexpected events.

Managing 24 hour shift schedules

When working in shifts, using an employee scheduling system is a smart move. Employee scheduling software makes managing schedules a lot easier, as it automates lots of recurring tasks, eliminates mistakes, and allows everyone involved to access the schedules they need, when they need it.
Berry van Waarden
Head of Marketing

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