Staggered shifts

Staggering start and finish times can help your business return to work after coronavirus.

With lockdown measures lifting, your business may now look to return employees to work. At least, those who can’t continue in their role remotely.

However, coronavirus now presents a major operational problem. You may have to return many employees to an enclosed working space, for example.

If you’re bringing employees back (and we have a furlough navigator tool to help you there), then you should consider the best approach.

With the challenges ahead, you may want to consider a staggered shift approach. This will help your workplace health & safety needs. Plus, make it easier for your staff to return. So, what’s this all about? We explore the approach in this post.

What is a staggered shift pattern?

It’s where a business plans for employees to start, and finish, work at different times. Typically, it’ll the same hours, but with a change in their structure.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s an essential approach as it can help you control social distancing and infection risk.

So, if you arrange your shifts to keep employees arriving at different times this can control the health & safety issues you face.

How staggered shift pattern can help with social distancing measures

This step is very important when it comes to the two-metre rule. That’s the UK government’s guidelines on the issue.

The staggered shifts consideration after coronavirus lockdown is something the government actively wants businesses to consider.

It’s particularly important if you’re in the retail industry, have a bar or restaurant, or run an office.

If you have a lot of employees, or they work in an enclosed working area, then you can take this approach to make sure you stick to the government’s rules.

Here are some of the advantages of this system:

  1. It’ll help you and your staff fix times when they (or you) want to start and finish.
  2. The approach will help avoid traffic in your workplace, particularly during peak hours—so, there will be no crowding onto lifts or queues in the canteen.
  3. In a quieter workplace, you can monitor your health & safety procedures more effectively—simply as there are fewer people at any given time.
  4. It’ll ease pressure on employees, many of whom will feel nervous about their return to work.

In short, you’ll have more control over how your business functions. It may seem odd, but in effect the fewer employees you have at work, the better you can manage the situation. And that can help your productivity. As well as minimise the risk of infection.

So, while it may seem logical to return your workforce at the same time, if you do that it could lead to an outbreak of coronavirus.

And if that happens, you’ll have to look into remote working more members of staff—or closing down again, temporarily.

How BrightHR software can help with staggered shift allocation

Just to let you know, we have workplace shifts and rotas software you can use. It’ll make your life a lot easier during these difficult times.

It lets you scrap the paperwork and spreadsheets. And you have an easy to use free app that lets you:

  1. Make a single rota—or several at the same time.
  2. Save your rotas in unlimited cloud space.
  3. Update your employees with notifications.
  4. Take control of your shifts, no matter how stressful the times are.

You can also use filters to edit an employee’s shift, all of which notifies them—in real-time. And you can add notes to shifts as reminders for employees.

Of course, you can print your shift out to stick on a wall—wherever you need to.

So, the good news is it makes your planning a lot easier. Which is crucial during these difficult times—get in touch if you’d like a demo of the app.

A sample staggered shift schedule

With the above all in mind, how should you approach this system? Well, it’s a bit easier than it looks. Especially if you use our app—otherwise you can follow a certain structure.

For example, you can use the 5/4/9 plan. That’s a “compressed” work schedule. Your employees will work nine-hour shifts—and one eight hour day. Making a total of 80 hours over a fortnight.

There’s also the 4/10 schedule. Basically, it means staff work a 10 hour day over four days. That’s during the course of a working week.

That could lead to a three-day weekend for employees as a result. But it depends on when, during the working week, they take their extra day off for the working hours they accumulate.

There’s also a four-week cycle, where your team works two consecutive shifts. What follows that is two days off—then three days back on. Before two more days off.

That then heads around in a rotating fashion, making for an unusual structure—but one that provides you with room to control the coronavirus outbreak.

You can take control

Ultimately, it’s down to your business—you can plan out what you think works best. You may even want to adapt the approach you take from the concepts above. Nothing is set in stone, of course.

But remember that these aren’t standard shifts—they can help you to limit the threat of coronavirus.

You must also take all the other steps you can to support your employees. The UK government may also change in time—so, stay alert for updates.

We’ll update you, of course, as and when the news becomes available.


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