Shift management is something that isn’t limited to just blue-collar service industries. Businesses that have longer opening hours need to “shift” their focus to efficient shift planning to ensure adequate coverage and employee work-life balance.
But what happens in industries with varying and extremely long opening hours? Inadequate rest and irregular schedules can make for an extremely cranky team. There are shift types that can help space out longer shifts with longer breaks to ensure that employees are well-rested for their next stint.
A 2-2-3 work schedule is a type of shift that can help and we’d like to dive into what it is and how it can be implemented.
What is a 2-2-3 Schedule?
The 2-2-3 work schedule is a 28-day rotating shift cycle where employees work 12-hour shifts, where 4 teams:
- Work 2 days
- Rest 2 days
- Work 3 days
Throughout the month, this is repeated weekly, but in a rotation. The first week is as mentioned above, and the next cycle starts with 2 rest days, 2 work days, and 3 rest days. Every fortnight, teams also swap their day shifts for night shifts so the shifts are inherently rotational.
The 2-2-3 schedule ensures that coverage is complete and employees are also getting 50% time during the fortnight to rest completely.
Sounds just a little confusing? Here is a visual that can help.
How Many Hours is a 2-2-3 Schedule?
Each shift in a 2-2-3 schedule is 12 hours long and is generally rotated every 15 days.
Which Companies Use a 2-2-3 Shift Schedule?
A lot of businesses with 24×7 requirements opt for the 2-2-3 shift schedule. With our research, we’ve been able to find the following:
According to Amazon Jobs, the organization has a split day and night shift during the week. Amazon splits their shifts into 12-hour shifts spaced into a day shift starting at 0600 hours and ending at 1700 hours and a night shift starting at 1700 hours and ending at 0600.
To make such a schedule operational, they use a modified 2-2-3 work schedule variation.
In the post-pandemic world, businesses are also using modified variations of this shift schedule for hybrid work. For instance, in May 2021 Google CEO Sundar Pichai went into detail about their 3/2 split model. “A workforce where around 60% of Googlers are coming together in the office a few days a week, another 20% are working in new office locations, and 20% are working from home.”
This sort of split provides flexibility for employees while allowing for in-person collaboration in the office. This sort of hybrid work split allows interpersonal interactions that contribute to team building while still allowing flexibility that employees have come to enjoy with remote work.
2-2-3 Schedule Pros and Cons
Advantages of a 2-2-3 Work Schedule
- Employees Get More Time Off: Each employee only works about 180 days per year, and the rest is time off that can be used to rest and spend with family.
- Longer Weekends and Lesser Time Spent Working Consequetively: No employee ever works more than 3 days consecutively and gets a 3-day weekend every fortnight, this gives them a lot of flexibility that regular 9 to 5’s don’t.
- Complete Coverage: A shift schedule like this allows businesses to have higher-hour coverage with an optimized workforce.
- Reduced Context Switching: 12-hour shifts allow employees to spend more time focusing and getting through tasks. Their productivity could improve due to reduced context switching.
Disadvantages of a 2-2-3 Work Schedule
- 12-Hour Shifts can be Exhausting: Even with enough breaks, working a 12-hour shift can be taxing on anyone. Although the option of longer breaks between shifts exists, it may still be too much for some.
- Sleep Cycle Issues: Every fortnight the team will need to rotate to a diagrammatically different shift. The human body responds well to routine and structure, this sort of rotational shift can mess with sleep cycles and cause shift work sleep disorders.
Tips for Implementing a 2-2-3 Work Schedule
Create and Distribute Shift Rosters in Time
Shift rostering shouldn’t be a one-sided affair. Managers can’t just create schedules and expect staff to adhere to them. People management is a key component of rostering. Creating rosters ahead of time allows employees to participate in the process by requesting changes and planning their time accordingly.
Employee feedback can also go a long way in figuring out shift times that work for the entire team.
Breaks are Key
Tork’s 2022 study, reveals that more than 9 in 10 employees say they are more likely to stay at a company where bosses encourage their employees to take a break.
With most 2-2-3 work schedules featuring a 12-hour shift, things can get stressful and lower productivity really fast. Make sure that your shift plans include mandatory breaks along with a scope to take additional breaks when required.
Because not every employee works in the same way. Some may prefer a 5-minute break every 25 minutes, while others may require a longer break after an hour of working. Figure out what mandatory breaks need to be worked into the shift roster for your team, and how floating breaks can be granted.
While on a federal level, there are no laws that dictate whether or not you need to enforce breaks in your workplace, it is clear that they are important for employee wellness. Federal law states that breaks under 20 minutes need to be paid time off the clock.
What are you doing to ensure that breaks are worked into the schedule?
Notice Signs of Fatigue and Actively Encourage Breaks
Exhausted employees aren’t as productive and will most likely make more mistakes at work. As a manager, it is important to regularly talk to employees and get an idea of how they’re feeling, how tired they are and how you can help them be more productive.
Try to carve out time within the shift to:
- Regularly interact with employees to find out how tired they are
- See if they can take custom breaks to re-energize
Power naps, walks, and even small gym breaks should all be on the table.
Let There be Light
Proper lighting at work is important to keep employees energetic and alert. Too little light can lull employees into a more lethargic state while too much light can cause eye problems.
A dimmable LED lighting system in the office can help in having stronger blue-based lighting at the beginning of the shift and dimming the lights to a more yellow-toned one at the end to promote sleep cues.
Streamline Onboarding Processes
Adjusting to a 2-2-3 work schedule can be initially emotionally and physically taxing. The day-to-night rotating schedule could also cause fatigue and insomnia. As a manager, it is crucial to check in with your new hires periodically. You could also assign them work buddies to provide them additional support.
Not Just Coffee, But More
12- hour shifts are long and most employees resort to endless coffees to stay awake but this can disrupt their circadian rhythm and make them more tired in the long run.
Instead of constant coffee breaks, offer employees nap areas where they can power nap. Keep a room where the lights are dimmed down, with weighted blankets and maybe even a white noise machine to help your employees have a 15-30 minute restorative nap.
Anticipate Staffing Problems
Sick leave, bereavement leave, and even vacations need to be thought about and accommodated at very short notice. Each team in 2-2-3 work schedule is a backup for their colleagues every 4 weeks. You also keep teams each week as a backup basis the number of shifts to ensure that replacements aren’t getting too many shifts. This rotation should also apply within teams to ensure that replacements aren’t overburdened.
Communicate with Employees
Managers need to make sure that they know the shift preferences of their employees. For instance, if all your teams prefer the 2-2-3 work schedule stick with that but if some prefer night shifts more, try to accommodate them by assigning them night shifts.
Be sure to do 1:1 meetings regularly to enquire about the challenges they may be facing to maximize productivity.
Use Shift Scheduling Software
Scheduling software is important for a number of reasons:
- It helps you schedule shifts well in advance
- Replicate shifts quickly
- Notify the team about shift rosters
- Empower the team to switch shifts independently
AttendanceBot is an efficient employee scheduling application for the conversational world. Notify your employees about shift rosters, open shifts, and periodic shift reminders straight in your team communication application, whether it is Slack or MS Teams.