Shift planning can be a complex art. Get it right, and your business can boost productivity and staff retention. But most companies try a few schedules before finding the ideal timetable.

What's the best shift pattern for your business? Since our blog post on popular types of shift pattern, WhosOffice has seen more companies trialling 4 on 4 off schedules.

Why is the 4 on 4 off shift pattern so attractive? And how can you introduce a 4 on 4 of schedule without disrupting workflow? Let’s take a deeper dive...

What is a 4 on 4 off shift pattern?

4 on 4 off is a regular repeating shift pattern. Staff work four consecutive daily shifts, followed by four days off. The week becomes eight days long rather than seven days.

Usually, 4 on 4 off is a rolling schedule. This means the schedule doesn’t take weekends or public holidays into account. The shift pattern repeats every eight weeks.

While there’s no extra time off for weekends, employers can choose to change the start time of each shift block. For example, someone doing 4 on 4 off might have a block of night shifts starting at 9pm. Then, after their four-day break, they have a block of day shifts.

What industries suit 4 on 4 off shifts?

There are many use cases for the 4 on 4 off schedule. But it’s often best suited to organisations that need 24/7 staffing, such as:

  • Care homes
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency services such as ambulances, fire service, police and coastguard
  • Telephone support centres
  • Hotels
  • Security services
  • Long-distance transportation
  • On-call repair services such as plumbing and heating
  • Vehicle breakdown cover

What are the benefits of a 4 on 4 off shift plan?

There are many reasons why 4 on 4 off shifts are growing in popularity. They benefit employers and employees in several ways, including:

  1. Reliability: staff on a 4 on 4 off shift pattern know which days they’re working and which days they’re off. Using a repeat pattern allows employers to plan shifts far into the future. This way, everyone knows who is working and when, well in advance.

    The regularity of a 4 on 4 off schedule is attractive to professionals with young children. Finding childcare can be difficult if your schedule is always changing. Especially if it changes at short notice. With 4 on 4 off, employees can see exactly which days their childcare provider will need to cover.
  2. Flexibility: while the four-day pattern is rigid, start times can vary. Companies can rotate start times rather than the same people working earlies or lates.
  3. Employee wellbeing: giving staff four days off between shifts allows them to rest. This helps to prevent burnout or potential mistakes on the job due to tiredness. Plus, during an eight-week cycle, staff will get three consecutive weekends off. This makes shift work more attractive to people with family commitments.
  4. Forward planning: regular shifts can be easier to fill when staff take a holiday.

Do you need a template for 4 on 4 off shifts?

Another great benefit of a 4 on 4 off shift plan is its simplicity. You’re not trying to juggle several shift patterns to schedule the right number of staff each day. As a result, you don’t need a complex staff roster template to introduce 4 on 4 off shifts.

However, adding shifts takes time if you’re planning staff rosters on spreadsheets. There’s also room for human error – which can still happen with repeating schedules.

The 4 on 4 off shift pattern is popular because it’s easy to understand and gives people a good work/life balance. But you don’t want to cause stress setting it up.

The quickest way to move to a 4 on 4 off schedule is by using shift planning software. WhosOffice includes a shift pattern generator, so you can create schedules in minutes.

A shift pattern planner makes it easier to experiment with new rosters. For example, you could trial the 4 on 4 off schedule with one department and gather their feedback. If it works, you can roll it out across your organisation. If it doesn’t, you can switch back to your previous shift pattern.

Are you ready to experiment with the 4 on 4 off shift pattern? Start your free WhosOffice trial to use our online shift pattern generator. Select the pattern you want from our staff roster templates, which include 4 on 4 off.

WhosOffice offers a longer free trial than most shift planning software. Sign up today and you’ll get the rest of this month plus next month free!


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