How to Create 24/7 Staff Schedules + Tips and Industry Specific Insights

11 min read

Picture this: an emergency room bustling with activity, a hotel lobby filled with guests, a manufacturing plant humming with productivity, and a lively restaurant serving delicious meals—these industries never sleep, and neither does their workforce.

To keep the wheels turning and the lights on, organizations need smart strategies for effectively scheduling employees.

So, buckle up and get ready to uncover the secrets behind efficient and exciting 24/7 scheduling!

Table of Contents

24 / 7 Scheduling Types

Organizations in industries like healthcare, hospitality, retail, manufacturing and entertainment must ensure they have all their staffing needs covered. Not just when customers are lined up out the door during door crasher sales or when emergency rooms are at capacity, but every minute of the day and night.

Long working hours combined with shift work schedules are proven to have adverse effects on your employees if not managed properly. So it’s important to take your schedules seriously.

Keeping employees engaged, motivated and alert while supporting their mental well-being requires an innovative staff scheduling app that can support a variety of smart scheduling strategies.

We gathered six of the leading workforce resource planning strategies below and identified the pros, cons, and industries they are best suited for.

DuPont Schedules

Can your company’s employees safely and effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities for twelve-hour shifts? Is your workforce divisible by four, even if it requires some part-time, casual or newly hired employees to help you cover all of your staffing needs for each day and night? Would your team appreciate having between three and seven consecutive days off regularly, especially to “recharge their batteries” after working a few night shifts?

If you answered “Yes” to even some of the questions above, the DuPont 24/7 schedule type is likely ideal for your business. The DuPont chemical company was first to implement this 24/7 scheduling cycle in the 1950s. Your 28-day DuPont rotating shift repeat cycle schedule would look something like this:

Advantages of the DuPont scheduling method include: 

  • Equitable distribution of night and day shifts.
  • Most weeks offer three to seven consecutive days off for rest and personal errands.
  • Longer shifts eliminate the need for an evening shift, which are often difficult to schedule personal time around before work or with family with sufficient recovery time.
  • Employees have seven consecutive days off every month. 

DuPont scheduling disadvantages include:

  • Each crew needs to work one week of seventy-two hours per cycle, which can be especially taxing for physical workers like manufacturing roles or work requiring focus like healthcare. Extended night-shift breaks can help with this factor. 
  • Unless an organization has sufficient on-call staff, replacing workers who call in sick or are injured can be challenging. 
  • Adapting to the DuPont schedule method can be difficult for some businesses and conflict with friends and family members working opposing shifts. 

Many organizations in these industries find DuPont schedule approaches to be effective: 

  • Utilities
  • Law enforcement

DuPont scheduling tends to work best for people who can transition between days and nights effectively or are motivated by extended time off to work many hours on a preceding week. 

Rotating Shift Schedules

Rotating shifts are a simpler approach to workforce resource management than the DuPont method and involve less overtime. Each crew of employees work day shifts for one or two weeks and then switch to night shifts for the next week or two. 

Rotating shift advantages 

Rotating shifts are easy to remember and plan for. They also enable employees to take on responsibilities or complete tasks they may not have time or opportunity to do during the day. Other employees complete necessary online training courses or administrative tasks. It’s clear that rotating shifts is a fair scheduling method that can increase employee morale, engagement and retention. 

Rotating shift disadvantages

They work best with long 12-hour shifts, which can cause fatigue or burnout without sufficient break or nap time management. 

The hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants and bars are often ideal for rotating shifts. Gratuity values fluctuate between shifts, and busy night shifts can be physically and mentally fatiguing if not shared among all staff members. Nurses, elder care workers, and doctors often work best on long day or night shifts since 24-hour coverage is mandatory, and medical professionals are in short supply in many areas. Rotating shifts can negatively affect the lifestyle of nurses and doctors, so getting this pattern right is a must when scheduling in healthcare.

4-On-4-Off Schedule

Are your employees comfortable working consecutive 12-hour shifts and want a stable, predictable schedule and a consistent crew assignment? Consider the 4-on-4-off schedule method. It’s simply a cycle of employees working four day shifts, followed by 4 days off, and then working four night shifts followed by four days off.  

Since employees have four consecutive days off each cycle, it can enable motivated employees to take one or two extra shifts on occasion to cover for colleagues who are off sick or on extended leave. 


  • Every employee works an equal share of night shifts, and enjoy four full days off per cycle. 
  • Since employees have four consecutive days off each cycle, it can enable motivated employees to take one or two extra shifts on occasion to cover for colleagues who are off sick or on extended leave. 
  • It deters burnout and can accommodate family commitments. 
  • It eases arranging coverage for those going on vacation or unexpected absences. 


  • Scheduling coverage for your organization’s 24 / 7 demands can be challenging, especially if your employees have specialized skills. Cross-training your employees can address this issue.  
  • Some workers may find it difficult to transition from night shift duty to day shifts, even over four days. 

Most Suitable for These Industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare workers
  • First responders / emergency workers 
  • Long-distance truck drivers 
  • Hospitality staff 

2-2-3 Work Schedule

Workers on 28-day cycles of 12-hour shifts that work in 2-2-3 patterns are assigned to a dedicated crew like the systems described above. Each crew works the first two weeks on the day shift and the next on the night shift for two consecutive shifts, two shifts off, and then work three more shifts before another two days off. This method works out to about 14 shifts per month or 180 work days and nights per year.


  • Employees get more time off compared to 8-hour shift workers
  • 24 / 7 coverage offers customers more flexibility


  • Scheduling and managing leave coverage can be challenging
  • Some employees may find transitioning between days and nights to be challenging, and compromise their health due to loss of sleep. 
  • It isn’t very predictable for employees and constant communication is required between schedulers and staff. 

Most Suitable for These Industries:

Many law enforcement agencies use this scheduling pattern.

4-on 3-off Schedule

The 4-on 3-off work pattern is a 21-day rotation that requires 6 teams of employees to work four 10-hour shifts, then have 3 days off. Each employee will work 12 shifts during each cycle. Employees can be assigned overlapping schedules to cover peak customer traffic times of day or night. Scheduling staff can also increase staffing for the busiest days of the week or month and decrease coverage on slower days.  

Depending on the nature of your business and your traffic flows, the start and end time parameters of your shifts will vary for the day, evening (swing) and night shifts.


  • This scheduling pattern is effective for 24 / 7 coverage, while meeting the ebbs and flows in your customer traffic and staff utilization patterns.   
  • Employees have three days off every week. 


  • Companies need to have large teams of employees for 24 / 7 coverage. 
  • Employees can find this kind of scheduling disruptive, as their shifts may start at non-traditional times of day or night. 
  • Schedule maintenance can be difficult for covering employee leaves. 
  • Rotating shifts week over week may be challenging if daytime utilization far exceeds night shift needs. 

Most Suitable for These Industries:

  • Contact centers
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation such as bus drivers, short-haul trucking

Continental Shift Pattern

Continental shift patterns require four teams and three eight-hour shifts. Each team works 2 morning shifts, 2 swing day shifts, then 2 night shifts before two days off. 


  • Some employees only have enough stamina for 8-hour shifts, and prefer more time off each day. 
  • Rested employees can typically perform at a higher level on a shorter shift. 


Most Suitable for These Industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Hospitality
  • Airlines and airports
  • Utilities
  • Healthcare, elder care and special needs care


Companies that implement continental shift patterns can adjust their staffing to accommodate their busiest times of day or night.   

Simplify Your Employee Schedules

Discover how Evolia can streamline your 24/7 scheduling needs with easy to use software to put your staffing needs on autopilot. Sign up for FREE and experience the ease of managing your workforce.

Get Started FREE

Considerations for Different Industries


Factory workers often do a lot of physically demanding lifting and repetitive work. 

Best Schedules to Choose

  • 4-on-4 off
  • Continental
  • 4-on-3 off

Recommended Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Shift Scheduling in Manufacturing


Healthcare workers and those that care for the elderly often need to respond to life-and-death situations, they are often on their feet for extended periods of time and need constant focus. 

Best Schedules to Choose

  • 4-on-4 off
  • Continental
  • 4-on-3 off


Retail employees with customer-facing skills are often best utilized between 9 am and 9 pm. Store clerks that stock shelves and build displays have greater flexibility over 24/7 cycles. Prioritizing adequate coverage is crucial. 

Best Schedules to Choose

  • Continental for customer-facing employees 
  • 4-on-4 off
  • 4-on-3 off


Restaurants and bars have different staffing requirements than hotels, and scheduling needs can change based on the day of the week, or the month of the year. A flexible scheduling method is crucial.  

Best Schedules to Choose

  • 4-on-4 off
  • Continental
  • 4-on-3 off

How To Best Manage and Create a 24 / 7 Schedules

Use Software

Managing multiple crews of employees in a dynamic business environment can be daunting. 

An intuitive smart-scheduling application can help a business that operates 24 / 7 to adopt a shift scheduling system and identify trends and anomalies along the way.  As new full-time, part-time or casual staff join or leave your organization, using a proven SaaS-based software platform can enable businesses to:

  • Keep employees safe, motivated and engaged
  • Ensure the needs of customers and patients are met
  • Identify employees that need coaching to ensure they are available for their assigned shifts
  • Determine whether a workforce management platform works for your organization, or if you should pivot to another, with minimal business interruption. 

Get Employee Buy-in

Ensure your employees understand the details, benefits, and sacrifices involved with a work scheduling pattern before you implement it. Ensure they understand when they are required at work and are notified of changes as they happen. There are lots of moving parts with all of these scheduling patterns which require advanced tools. 

Communication about time-off policies and procedures between HR staff and employees is crucial to making any scheduling format work.  

Learn how Team Communication Software can Streamline Your Workplace Communications

Be Fair

Working night shifts can be challenging, especially for roles that require a lot of mental focus or physical endurance. Overstaffing on night shifts if utilization is low can be demoralizing and a bad investment in your staff resources. Employees working excessive overtime can hurt your bottom line. Find ways to schedule your teams effectively. 

Where possible, enable your staff to spend time with their friends and family, and give them time to recover from consecutive shifts before adjusting to different shift start and end times. Employee engagement, loyalty, and performance results when your people feel their contributions and time are valued. 


And there you have it, the dynamic world of 24/7 scheduling types! An efficient schedule can not only help your employees, it can also help your business save on overtime costs.

As industries like healthcare, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and entertainment continue to thrive, the need for well-balanced and efficient scheduling methods becomes more evident than ever. 

Armed with the knowledge of these resourceful strategies and the advent of cutting-edge scheduling software, businesses can conquer the challenges of round-the-clock operations with finesse. 

So, as the world keeps spinning, remember to keep your workforce engaged, motivated, and well-rested—it’s the key to unlocking success in the ever-evolving landscape of 24/7 operations!

Start your free trial today with Evolia and simply your workplace scheduling.


Simplify Your Employee Schedules

Discover how Evolia can streamline your 24/7 scheduling needs with easy to use software to put your staffing needs on autopilot. Sign up for FREE and experience the ease of managing your workforce.

Get Started FREE

Featured Articles

See Evolia in action. Request a Demo!

Let our experts show you how we can streamline your scheduling and optimize your HR operations.

Get a personalized demo to:

  • Automate scheduling and time & attendance.
  • Find the workers you need and optimize your internal resources
  • Integrated with most HRIS and ERP softwares


We make it work for you!