Alternative Shift Work Schedules: Definition and The Common Types

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In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world, the traditional 9-to-5 work routine is no longer the only option for individuals seeking fulfilling and balanced careers. As the demands of modern life continue to change, both employees and employers are recognising the importance of flexibility in work schedules. Enter alternative shift work schedules, a concept that has gained traction in recent years.

In this article, we will explore the definition of alternative shift work schedules, discuss their benefits, and delve into the common types that are gaining popularity in today’s workforce. Let’s find out below!

What are Alternative Shift Work Schedules?

Alternative shift work schedules, also known as non-traditional work schedules or flexible work arrangements, refer to work schedules that deviate from the typical Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 routine. These alternative schedules provide employees with greater control over their working hours, allowing them to customise their work-life balance and accommodate personal commitments.

Why Alternative Work Schedules Can Be Beneficial?

Implementing alternative work schedules can bring numerous advantages for both employees and employers. One key benefit is increased employee satisfaction and engagement. By offering flexibility in scheduling, companies can attract and retain top talent who value a healthy work-life balance. Employees, on the other hand, can better manage their personal responsibilities, such as childcare, education, or pursuing hobbies.

Furthermore, alternative work schedules can enhance productivity. When employees have the opportunity to work during their most productive hours, they are likely to produce higher-quality work in less time. This flexibility also leads to reduced absenteeism and tardiness since employees can adapt their schedules to fit their needs and preferences.

Types of Alternative Work Schedules

Now that we understand the definition and benefits of alternative shift work schedules, let’s explore the common types that are gaining popularity in today’s workforce. These different types of alternative work schedules offer varying degrees of flexibility and customisation to cater to individual preferences and needs. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

1. Maxiflex

The Maxiflex schedule is designed to provide employees with maximum flexibility in their work hours. It allows individuals to choose their start and end times within a broad range of hours. For example, one employee might prefer to start work at 7 a.m. and finish at 3 p.m., while another might opt for a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule. This type of alternative schedule allows employees to align their work hours with their energy levels and personal commitments, resulting in increased productivity and satisfaction.

2. Variable Week

The Variable Week schedule offers employees the freedom to work a varying number of hours each week. Instead of a fixed number of hours, individuals can adjust their work hours based on their personal obligations and preferences. For instance, one week an employee might work 40 hours, while the following week, they might work 35 hours. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for those with fluctuating personal responsibilities or those who prefer compressed workweeks with longer breaks.

3. Variable Day

With a Variable Day schedule, employees have the flexibility to choose which days they work, as long as they fulfil the required total number of hours per week. For example, an employee may decide to work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, while taking Wednesdays off. This type of alternative schedule allows individuals to accommodate personal appointments or activities that fall on specific days, providing a better work-life balance and increased autonomy.

4. Gliding

Gliding schedules involve gradually shifting start and end times over a period of days or weeks. This type of schedule offers a smooth transition between different work shifts, allowing employees to adjust to changing circumstances or personal preferences. For example, an employee might start work at 8 a.m. and finish at 4 p.m. for a few days, and then shift to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule the following week. Gliding schedules provide individuals with the flexibility to adapt their working hours without abrupt changes.

5. Flexi Tour

Flexi Tour schedules are commonly used in industries that require round-the-clock operations, such as healthcare or customer service. Employees are presented with a selection of predefined work shifts or tours that cover various periods during the day, such as morning, afternoon, and evening shifts. This type of alternative schedule allows employees to choose the tour that best suits their preferences or personal needs, ensuring a fair distribution of work hours and accommodating diverse scheduling requirements.


Alternative shift work schedules have emerged as a powerful solution for individuals and organisations seeking greater flexibility, improved work-life balance, and increased productivity. By embracing alternative work schedules such as Maxiflex, Variable Week, Variable Day, Gliding, and Flexi Tour, employees can regain control over their working hours, allowing them to align their professional and personal lives better.

If you’re ready to explore the benefits of alternative shift work schedules and streamline your scheduling process, why not try StaffAny’s free employee schedule maker? With its user-friendly interface and robust features, StaffAny’s scheduling system can help you effortlessly create and manage alternative shift work schedules, empowering your workforce and optimising your operations. Embrace the future of work and discover the transformative impact it can have on your organisation and employees with StaffAny today!

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