WorkSight’s Guide to Different Types of Shift Patterns

A schedule is a plan that dictates who does what, when, and where. Each of these elements is part of a continuous cycle of decision making, and each decision has an impact on the final schedule. Time is, of course, essential in the scheduling world.

In industries where employees are needed around the clock, it’s not uncommon to encounter a specific type of schedule: shift work. With millions of people across North America working in industries where shift work is prominent, these organizations need to have a deep understanding of how to properly schedule shift work- taking into account labor availability, operation hours, and industry regulations.

WorkSight is one of the most capable workforce management systems regarding shift work and as a result, there are few shift patterns that it hasn’t encountered.

To help you understand the difference between various shift patterns we have compiled a glossary of terms, as well as a list of common shift patterns.


Workload: the breakdown of business demand into assignable hours of work. There are three components to a workload: (1) identification of the activities or tasks that are required to respond to demand, (2) quantification of business volumes into hours using labor standards, and (3) organization of the activities within an operational structure of jobs and departments.

Shift/Shift Duration: The span of time from when an employee begins work, to when they end it. It may be broken down into smaller parts based on job changes or breaks.

Shift Work: a work schedule that takes place on a rotation.

Shift Pattern: the occurrences of work within a set time period that is rotated through. This time period often does not fit in a typical workweek.

Shift Hours: Minimum and maximum work hours within a work span


Types of Shift Patterns:

2-2, 3-2, 2-3, 12-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

4-2, 4-3, 4-3, 10-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

4-3, 10-Hour, Rotating Shift Pattern

4-4, 12-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

4-4, 4-4, 12-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

5-3, 5-4, 5-3, 10-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

6-4, 6-4, 6-4, 10-Hour Rotation Shift Pattern

The Dupont Shift Pattern

The Kelly Shift Pattern

The Pitman Shift Pattern

The Southern Swing Shift Pattern

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