Right now our unit at work is extremely busy while we push to meet a major client deliverable. Due to the structure of our work, we’ve been working longer hours and splitting the day to have more coverage to get things done.
My current schedule. My normal work schedule is 8-5 with an hour lunch break, but there is some flex time involved. The main objective is for me to work 40 hours per week, and if that means coming in early and leaving early, or putting in a couple late nights and getting out early on Friday, then that’s what it takes.
I much prefer this arrangement vs. my old job which had a rigid 8-5 schedule (with lunch break). In the old position, it was very difficult to deviate from that schedule and basically needed managerial approval. In their defense, it was a consulting position at the client site, so it was more difficult for my old company to justify expenses if I wasn’t physically there.
Which shift is the best to work?
So which shift do you prefer to work? I’ve worked them all – from my days in high school working the after school shift at a grocery store and working nights stocking department store shelves, to the US AIr Force where I worked every shift imaginable. I worked days, nights, weekends, holidays, and even one 36 hour stretch where my only break was to get some food. Surprisingly, the 36 hour shift wasn’t the worst. The worst was working a combination of days, swings, and mids in the same week, then coming in for weekend duty. For those not in the military, exercises suck!
Here are the standard shifts:
Day shift: Day shift normally runs 8am-4pm or some variation. This is my favorite shift to work because it has normal sleeping hours and is the easiest to plan around. This is also the easiest shift to work while raising a family.
Swing shift: Swing shift, or second shift, usually runs 4pm-12am or similar hours. In my experience, this is where a lot of the work gets done because the bosses are gone for the day and there are fewer meetings and administration to attend to. The worst part is when you are trying to wrap up everything early on Friday so you can go out and you end up staying until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Night shift: Night shift, mids, graveyard shift… Many names, same shift. Mids usually covers the hours of 12am-8am or similar hours. When I was in the USAF, I volunteered to work this shift for two years so I could attend night school full time and get my degree. It was my best financial move in college because the military paid me to go to school. It wasn’t always easy going to bed at 10 am, sleeping until 3pm, then getting up, going to class, then immediately going to work. But the payoff was a degree and opportunity that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. The other benefit was there were fewer people in the way at work so it was easier to get my job done.
Split shift: Split shifts can be short 4-6 hour shifts like a part time job, or they can be full time hours split for coverage. Depending on where you work, you may not know your schedule until a couple days or weeks before you work. This makes planning life difficult. Split shifts can also be rough on your body if the hours are constantly changing. I’ve worked my fair share of these shifts; in the military the goal was to have coverage at all hours of the day.
Twelves: 12 hour shifts. I’ve worked more than my fair share of 12 hour shifts, and I don’t miss them at all! Especially when 12 hours meant show up half an hour to an hour early to get turnover, and stay an extra half hour to an hour to give turnover and wrap everything up. Often those 12 hour sifts turned into 13-14 hours. 12 hour shifts are common in medical fields, and among military, policemen, laborers, and similar professions, usually where around the clock coverage is necessary.
24 hour duty: This one is rough, but often you are on call and allowed to sleep. The best example would be firefighters or the on call medical staff at a hospital.
No shift: Those who are self employed, athletes, business owners, freelancers, writers, musicians, performance artists, and others may not have a shift at all. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. Often, they work more hours because they know they will reap the benefits of their labor. They also tend to intertwine their lives with their work.
Which is your favorite? My current favorite is day shift so I can spend more time with my wife and easily take care of errands. But I’ve worked them all, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Which do you prefer? (click through to see the poll).
Reader Poll: Which Shift to You Prefer to Work?
- Days: 8-4 (49%, 221 Votes)
- Swings: 4-12 (18%, 80 Votes)
- I’m just thankful to have a job (14%, 62 Votes)
- Mids: 12-8 (10%, 47 Votes)
- Twelves: 12 hour shifts (9%, 41 Votes)
Total Voters: 451 (poll has ended – thanks for participating!)