Staggered Shifts

Staggered shifts are nothing new & many businesses have been offering them to staff for years. The question is, how to implement them successfully?
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: March 1, 2023
  • 4 Minutes
Staggered Shifts in UK explained by Papershift

The UK Government earlier this year relaxed its lockdown measures, enabling businesses, like pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels and retail outlets, to reopen, providing they have taken measures to ensure they are COVID safe. 

One of the proposed measures for allowing employees to safely return to work was to introduce staggered shift patterns or hours. This was put into place to reduce the likelihood of large numbers of people travelling at peak times and reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. It will also prevent large groups of people arriving and leaving organisations at the same time at end of the day. 

But staggered shifts are nothing new and many businesses have been offering them to staff for years. The question is, what exactly are staggered shifts and how can a business implement them successfully?

Read on to find answers to these questions and many more.

Let’s begin.

What are staggered shifts?

Staggered shifts are when a business intentionally schedules staff to start and end their shifts at slightly different times, creating periods of overlap during their working hours.

Staff who work staggered shifts tend to work the same number of hours but will begin their shifts one after the other, sometimes with a slight overlap.

What examples of staggered shift patterns are there?

There are various options a business can consider when looking to implement staggered shifts. Here are some examples to think about:

  1. Splitting staff into teams with alternative days for working from home and the workplace.
  2. Introduce four in five weeks, where staff work the hours they would in a five day week but spread over four days.
  3. If staff are in teams, making arrangements for all team members to be in the workplace at any one time.
  4. Splitting staff into teams with alternate days working from home or split across day and night shifts.
  5. Changing breaks and lunch times to stop staff congregating.

Staggered shifts are used in all kinds of businesses, but a typical staggered shift pattern for a restaurant might look something like this:

  • Employer no 1: 9am – 5pm
  • Employee no 2: 10 am – 6pm
  • Employee no 3: 11am – 7pm
  • Employee no 4: 12pm – 8pm

By staggering the shifts in this way, the business is able to cover the entire timeframe it is open and overlap staff at busy times to provide sufficient cover.

What are the advantages of staggering shifts?

As with all shift patterns, there are both advantages and disadvantages to staggered shifts. Here are a few advantages to think about:

a. Better scheduling coverage

By far the biggest advantage of staggered shift patterns is that it allows businesses to cover the full range of their working hours easier. Having staff available at all times of the working day can increase productivity and reduce issues with over and under staffing.

Of course, as with any complicated scheduling system, its best to use a good quality scheduling software to ensure you get the most out of shift patterns. Take a look at our all-in-one scheduling solution elsewhere on our website and see how we can make implementing staggered shifts easy.

b. Fewer staff getting in the way

Sometimes a business can overstaff time periods and the sheer number of staff can get in the way of productivity. Staggered shifts allow businesses to schedule in such a way that ‘overlaps’ in staffing can be set at the usual pinch points rather than having the same level of staff available all the time, even at quieter times. 

c. Skeleton staff when necessary

When scheduling night shifts or other less productive hours, it can be difficult to get staffing levels right, especially if staff work fixed shifts. Using staggered shifts can allow for businesses to implement a skeleton shift pattern during the quiet times and ‘overlap’ staff when more staff are required.

d. Less commuting for staff

Did you know that the average commuter wastes 42 hours each year stuck in traffic. That’s an insane amount of time wasted by the average worker.

Staggered shifts can allow staff to avoid lengthy commutes which can shorten their overall working day and leave them more refreshed for the work that lies ahead. 

e. Shift work can be more convenient for staff

Staggered shift patterns allow staff to take control of their rota to some degree, allowing them to plan social commitments, childcare, or even a second job.  

f. Work can easily be passed between shifts

The beauty about staggered shift jobs is the overlap in staff allows businesses to transition work over to the next shift. Rather than having a cut off where one set of employees’ leaves and another starts, staggered shifts give a business the opportunity to pass work between them easily.

What are the disadvantages of staggered shifts?

While the advantages of staggered shift patterns are quite apparent, there are also a few cons to implementing them. Here are a few to consider:

a. Staggered shifts can cost more to implement

Shift work hours are often referred to as “anti-social” which often means that businesses have to pay staff more for working them. 

Most staff will receive a bonus or an increase in their hourly rate. This can add up when staff have to regularly work on the weekend or during a public holiday. 

b. More complicated schedules

Staggered shifts, by their very nature, are complicated to implement. Getting the right balance of staff while achieving good coverage can be a nightmare to achieve… if you don’t have the right software to help out.

Take a look at our best-selling-scheduling software trusted by thousands of companies across the UK. Not only will it make implementing staggered shifts a synch, but the many add-ons available in its marketplace can help make all HR tasks a breeze.

In conclusion

Staggered shift patterns are here to stay and can offer many advantages to a business. 

manage shift planning, timesheet and sta
Free Trial
Shift Planning Online Made Simple & Fun
  • Create any shift pattern
  • Click employees into shift schedule
  • Staff view by hours, day & week
  • Fast & auto shift planning
  • Publish shifts via app to employees
  • Automatic timesheets from shift schedules
14 days free trial. No credit card required
14 days free trial More on Shift Planning

We hope you have enjoyed this article. For more useful workplace information, check out the rest of our website.

Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)