The Continental Shift Pattern

The Continental Shift Pattern - What it is and how it works.

Find out what a continental shift pattern is and how you can implement it in your business.
23. May 2022  • 3 minute read
Do you have a lot of employees who work different shifts? If so, the continental shift pattern might be for you. Continental shifts are a way to organise employee shifts that can save your business time and money. In this blog post, we will discuss what the continental shift pattern is and how you can implement it in your business. We will also discuss the benefits of using this type of shift pattern. Keep reading to learn more!

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What is a continental shift pattern?

The continental shift schedule is an 8-day rotational cycle in which each employee works in 8-hour shifts.

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

Looking for a schedule with 12-hour shifts? Then the 2-2-3 work schedule might be a more suitable solution for you.

Here is an example of a continental shift pattern:

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




The continental shift pattern offers your employees more flexibility and more time off. This, in turn, creates a higher level of satisfaction and positive experience at work and is therefore often described as employee-friendly.

The benefits of a continental shift pattern are:

  • Saving time

  • Saving money

  • Increased employee morale

  • Increased employee productivity

How to implement the continental shift pattern.

If you are interested in implementing a continental shift pattern in your business, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

First, you will need to determine which shifts you want your employees to work. It is important to coordinate this with your team to determine where everyone's preferences lie. This will make it easier for everyone to follow the schedule smoothly.

Next, you will need to create the schedule and assign your staff to the different shifts. And once you're done with that, you will need to communicate the schedule to your employees and make sure they understand it. A great way to streamline this process is by using an employee scheduling tool like Workfeed.

Challenges you might face when implementing the continental shift pattern.

1. Employee fatigue

One challenge you might face is employee fatigue. This is because employees who work different shifts on different days can become fatigued from the constant change in their schedule.

2. Difficulty communicating the schedule

Another challenge you might face is difficulty communicating the schedule. This is because it can be difficult to explain the shift pattern to employees and make sure they understand it. Giving your employees access to an employee scheduling app can make it easier for them to understand their work schedule, 

3. Difficulty tracking employee attendance and performance

Finally, another challenge you might face is difficulty tracking employee attendance and performance. This is because it can be difficult to keep track of which employees are working which shifts on which days.
Despite these challenges, it can be a great way to improve employee morale, productivity, and attendance. If you are interested in implementing this pattern in your business, Workfeed can help you streamline the process.

Does the continental shift schedule work for all types of businesses?

The short answer to this question is that it largely depends on your industry and the size of your workforce. For example, if you’re staffing frontline workers in a store that's opened 24/7, a continental shift pattern could work well for you.

However, if you’re creating schedules for a regular office crew, the 9/80 schedule would be a better fit. The continental shift schedule could still work for you if you have to cover more and irregular hours.

In the end, the continental shift pattern is particularly suitable for companies that work with long and irregular opening hours.


The continental shift pattern is a great way to improve employee morale, productivity, and attendance for businesses that require 24/7 staff presence. Despite some challenges, the continental shift pattern can save you time and money by allowing you to schedule fewer employees for each shift. 

If you are interested in implementing a continental shift pattern in your business, you can make it easy on yourself by using a employee scheduling system like Workfeed to make the process less time-consuming so that all your attention can be focused on your team.
Berry van Waarden
Berry van Waarden
Head of Marketing

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