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 of 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, training 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: Nightshift, 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 3 pm, 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 of days or weeks before your 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 showing 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 shifts turned into 13-14 hours. 12-hour shifts are common in medical fields, and among military, policemen, laborers, and similar professions, 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.
Negotiate Flex Hours to Save Money, Increase Productivity
If you can’t get your preferred shift, you may be able to negotiate flex hours or a telecommuting arrangement.
A coworker recently negotiated a change in his work schedule that will continue to meet our client’s needs, benefit our company, increase his value, increase his overall productivity, and save him a lot of money in the process.
What did he do? He negotiated a change in his work schedule to give him time to take a professional training course.
Our normal hours are 8-5, with an hour lunch break, which equals an 8 hour day. He negotiated to work 10 hour days Mon-Thur at the client site and to take the professional training course from home each Friday.
He comes into work an hour early to get a jump on other commuters, takes a half hour lunch, and stays an extra half hour after most people leave. The early morning is the most productive time of day for him, so our client will receive better service, plus the added benefit of his new training.
Our company will have a happier and more efficient worker, and he ultimately increases his value on the open market if he ever decides to go to another company. He may even be able to turn this training into a promotion. It works out well for everyone involved.
Not only does he increase his value to our company, but he will also save a lot of money with this arrangement. He has a 40-mile commute each way, so he currently spends around $8 each day in gas.
This working arrangement is likely temporary, but for the few months he works this schedule, he will save a couple of hundred dollars on gas alone. He will also put fewer miles on his vehicle.
His commute is an hour each way which equals a lot of lost opportunity. One less day of commuting every week will free up 2 hours of time normally wasted.
He will also save money by eating at home with his family on Fridays. More importantly, he will have more time at home with them.
Which is Shift 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!)
Would You Prefer a Four Day Work Week?
It’s not uncommon for small, privately owned businesses to offer employees a 4-day work schedule. But it’s less common for larger, publicly owned companies or state and federal governments.
For example, in 2008, the state of Utah transitioned many employees to a 4 day work week. The state hoped to save over $3 million dollars in utility costs per year by closing over 1,000 state buildings one extra day per week.
The move required most non-emergency personnel to work 10 hour days Monday-Thursday, instead of the traditional 8 hours Monday-Friday.
The experiment lasted until 2011, when the state went back to a 5-day workweek, citing lower than anticipated savings and consumer complaints.
What do you think of a 4 day work week?
Personally, I love the idea. I’ve worked every shift imaginable, and I would have no problem going into work an hour earlier and coming home an hour later. I would also try to cut down my lunch break as well so I could get out a little earlier.
The idea of a three day weekend every week is extremely appealing to me. I would love an extra day every week to take care of things around the house, go grocery shopping, work on my websites, and take care of everything else required in a “normal” busy life.
This idea was actually brought up to our Vice President in an “all hands call” when I worked for a large Fortune 500 company. Unfortunately, the idea was quickly shot down.
I worked as a government contractor and we worked alongside the military and civilian personnel who work a traditional 8-5, M-F schedule. To ask us to do anything different wouldn’t be fair to our client.
We discussed the fact that telecommuting can save money for employers and employees, and that idea was taken into further consideration.
How about every other Friday off? There are similar modified schedules that give employees every other Friday off. My neighbor works 9 hour days and gets every other Friday off. Some federal government employees have a similar shift. This is an excellent option as well, as it gives employees one or two extra days off per month.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a 4-Day Workweek
Working a 4-day workweek offers employees a lot of time off in which they can accomplish routine appointments, errands, and chores. I’m sure you can even make the case that employees will miss less work if they are able to use this scheduled downtime to take care of appointments that would otherwise cause them to miss work.
But a condensed schedule isn’t without its challenges.
Pros to a 4-day work week
There are quite a few things I love about the idea of a 4 day work week. The most beneficial aspect is more time. No, there isn’t a magic button that makes each day have more than 24 hours.
But in my opinion, you can do a lot more with a full day off than with an extra hour or two broken up over the course of a week.
- More time at home with family.
- More time to take care of chores, shopping, and other household activities (do it all Friday and have Saturday to yourself).
- More time to devote to hobbies.
- Lower commuting costs (save money on gas!).
- Save money on food (unless you brown bag it every day).
- Do you shopping and other errands on Fridays when most people are working.
Cons to a 4 day work week
While a 4 day work week seems like a golden opportunity, it is a rare opportunity at best. And like everything else, if there are good things, there are probably some things that are bad. Cons:
- Not available for most workers (most businesses do not have the option of closing doors an extra day per week).
- Arranging day care may be difficult; particularly for single parents or those with special needs.
- 10 hour days can get long and tedious very quickly.
What do you think? Would you prefer to work four 10 hour days and have every Friday off? Or do you prefer the standard 8-5, M-F work schedule?