• Working Time Project management and implementation
  • Research and analysis – understanding your issues and understanding your data
  • Develop bespoke solutions
  • Stakeholder interviews and surveys
  • Knowledge transference
  • Employee Engagement
Work Services

Absenteeism reduced by 50%

Labour cost/unit reduced by 16%


  • WORK Scheduling: Powerful shift pattern and rota design tool
  • WORK Management: Comprehensive labour resource management system
  • WORK Time: Delivers real-time labour supply information
  • WORK Employee Self Service: Empowers employees to manage time off and other workforce variables efficiently
WORK Suite Software

Time saving of 25% in day-to-day
organisation of labour


  • We provide the structure to guide your project to successful implementation
  • We can be as involved as you want us to be; from high end strategic advice to providing working time audits and strategic reviews
  • We use our vast experience, knowledge and specialist tools to recommend solutions to increase profitability and productivity
Consultancy advice and strategies for working time change

20% increase in throughput

Manufacturing efficiency increased by 30%


  • Reduce and control costs
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve service levels
  • Understand and meet your true demand
  • Use time more effectively
  • Improve work life balance
  • Increase labour flexibility
  • Manage seasonality and volatility
Lean-ER TM transforms shift pattern scheduling

11.5% Labour cost saving

Staff turnover reduced by 10%


Shift Patterns

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Examples of shift patterns and examining the traditional approaches to shift working

Working Time Solutions Ltd have worked with a diverse range of organisations, advising them on the most efficient shift pattern to meet both business need and the preference of the workforce. Our specialist software applications and expert consultancy have enabled organisations to successfully tackle their working time issues.

The use of shift-work within companies is growing rapidly in the UK, and unlike part-time and temporary work, tends to involve a larger proportion of the workforce. Finding an appropriate shift-pattern which matches the specific needs of the organisation is therefore critical.

There are many conventional shift-patterns which industry utilises, but as businesses grow and customer demands change, many organisations find tailored shift patterns are more appropriate.

Conventional Shift patterns include:

‘2 Shift’

This model is typically Monday to Friday, 0600-1400 and 1400-2200. Teams of participants usually rotate on a weekly basis. The 0600-1400 shift may be called earlies, mornings, AM, or 6-2, while the 1400-2200 shift may be called lates, afters, afternoons, back shift or 2-10.

The default pattern may cover: two x 40 hours = 80 hours per week or two x 37.5 hours per week.

The rate of rotation does not need to be on alternate weeks. Handovers are usually informal. A flying shift change is rare unless the process is complex. These shifts can also be on a ‘fixed’ basis, with ‘regular mornings’ and ‘regular afternoons’.

Afternoons are usually less popular than mornings with employees. With this set-up, meal breaks are frequently but not exclusively, paid.

‘Night Shift’

This model covers typically, but not exclusively, Monday to Friday 2200-0600. The alternative Sunday to Thursday stint tends to be popular with employees. The default cover would be: 5 x 8 hours = 40 hours. When used in conjunction with 2 shift system, it gives 120 hours total. When used in isolation, 4 x 10 hour night shifts are popular. Meal breaks are frequently but not exclusively paid. People who work on ‘Regular Nights’ often do so because it suits them. It should not be assumed a revised system which includes some rotation into days will be welcomed.

3 Shift or Semi Continuous (8 hour shifts, averaging 40 hours per week)

This is frequently 0600 Monday to 0600 Saturday, covering a default 120 hours per week. Usually eight hour based, teams spend a week on each, with a nights, afternoons, morning progression over the three-week cycle. Patterns of 12 hours are possible over five days, but these are demanding and uncommon. Meal breaks are frequently but not exclusively paid. Operations of six days/144 hours can be covered using eight hour or 12 hour shifts based upon an average 36 hour week.

Staggered days

This model is typically based on a default averaging 5 x eight hour days. The pattern tends to be spread over six or seven days to provide formal weekend cover. Employees are normally given compensating days off during the week. The staggered days model is frequently used for plant maintenance or services groups and can incorporate a simple rota based on a two week or three week cycle.

Twilight or Evening Shift

This pattern provides cover for four or five days per week, usually from 1700 to 2100 hours. This is a popular part time pattern for employees with caring responsibilities since it can provide work when care can be provided by a partner working normal day work. It is used extensively as a flexible resource in businesses with a seasonal demand profile. It can be used to link a day-working task to nights. Reported to be a highly productive working structure probably because the shifts are short and the population motivated.

Regular 4-on 4 off

This is a classic continuous working pattern based on 12 hour shifts. Participants work for four consecutive 12-hour days, followed by four consecutive days off, then four consecutive 12-hour nights, followed by four consecutive days off, then four more days and so on. The starting day for each set of day or night shifts moves ahead by one day per week. This leads to a long cycle time (16 weeks) before the pattern returns to the original starting place. In a 4-team application, the teams need to take up weeks 1, 5, 9 and 13 relative to each other for the system to deliver the required pattern of presence. One drawback is the consecutive number of weekends which are affected by the working pattern. 4-on-4-off patterns are also found as days only or nights only variants. The 4-teams average 42 hours per week during the 16 week cycle.

Continentals (4-team, 8-hour or 12-hour patterns, averaging 42 hours per week)

This term is frequently used to describe most types of the continuous pattern. However, it refers specifically to systems where a series of consecutive shifts (usually seven x eight hour shifts or four x 12-hour shifts) includes short blocks of two or three of each of the shifts which the progression is composed. To avoid impracticalities, the eight–hour shift progression will commence with mornings, and move through afternoons then night shifts followed by two or three rest days. Each sequence ends on nights and issues concerning recovery periods and ‘shift’ lag need to be considered.

Weekend shifts

This model typically uses 12-hour shifts, with participants limited to working 12 hours per day both Saturday and Sunday, rotating between days and nights on alternate weeks. When used in conjunction with a three-shift, semi-continuous pattern, full 24/7 cover can be achieved. There are disadvantages over the isolation of the weekend and the weekday groups. The effect of weekend and nightshift premium upon the 24 hours worked each week increases the value of paid hours to an attractive level which equates roughly to a normal weekly wage.

WORK Suite SoftwareShift-planning software

Working Time Solutions Limited has developed a range of powerful specialist software to handle strategic shift planning. WORK Suite® Scheduling helps you design shift patterns on the basis of demand. It lets your workforce visibly see how they work and it can be a powerful tool when negotiating change. WORK Suite® Scheduling is a powerful and flexible tool that supports Lean-ER® and allows users to solve a wide range of labour planning problems. By altering key variables including shift length, team sizes, minimum and maximum consecutive shifts or rest days and preferred shift rotation, all kinds of scenarios can be explored in ‘What if?’ mode, based on the underlying need for labour. Ultimately, your organisation is able to plan shifts and rotas effectively, using resources in the most efficient manner. For more information please see the WORK Suite® Scheduling page.

Working Time Solutions also host events which discuss in detail issues relating to shift pattern optimisation.

If you would like to identify the working patterns that best fit your business demand and your employees’ work/life balance, please contact us or submit an information request to find out how we can help.

Further areas of expertise: Workforce Management, Annual hours and Lean Employee Resourcing.

  • Our clients include

    Clients using Lean-ER approachClients using Lean-ER approachClients using Lean-ER approachClients using Lean-ER approachClients using Lean-ER approachClients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Accolade WinesClients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach Clients using Lean-ER approach
  • Solutions across all sectors

  • Events, Forums & Publications

    As well as providing consultancy and software tools for working time change strategies, we also host educative working time change events which we run periodically throughout the year.

    Forthcoming Events

    9th Working Time Change Executive Forum 

    How Lean Employee Resourcing can optimise your workforce, improve morale and reduce costs

    18th and 19th March 2015, Newport, South Wales

    More about our events

    Feed-back from previous delegates:

    “The speakers were most relevant because of the practical information given regarding the implementation of annualised hours”  Wessex Water

    “We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and each presentation had something of relevance to our organisation”  Wedgwood

    “ The Masterclass provided a good insight into the long journey required, it also showed that there are many potential solutions”  United Biscuits

    “A well structured seminar that raised and answered a lot of questions”  Vets Now Ltd

    “Very interesting day & a good introduction to what I am sure is a significant opportunity to Faccenda”  Faccenda Foods

    “a very informative event”  George Wilkinson Ltd (Household goods manufacturer)

    “An excellently organised event, very useful”  the AA

    “A really interesting and informative day”  BAA

    “The content of the course made you think how you could improve efficiency in your business”  Scott Timber Limited

    “A valuable course”  GlaxoSmithKline

    “There was great cross industry representation, with articulate and enthusiastic speakers”.  Heinz

    “A very enjoyable forum”  Johnston Sweepers

    “The forum had a good overall structure with a good variety of speakers”  Kraft

    “Very useful conference/seminar”  Moog

    “We found the forum rewarding and would recommend it to others”  The Pall Corporation

    Shift Design HandbookPublications 

    Shift Design Handbook

    This Shift Design Handbook is intended to provide a reliable and comprehensive source of information on key types of shift patterns in use in the U.K. 

    More about our publication


  • Latest News

To find out more about the many services available from Working Time Solutions – including consultancy, software and Lean-ER itself – then please don’t hesitate to contact us or submit an information request and we shall be happy to find out how we can help. All our solutions start with talking and listening: we look forward to beginning the conversation soon.