Many companies employ staff on a rota basis for jobs where the work is handled by different sets of crew working in shifts to cover all the hours of operation, which can be 24/7.
Shift work has been much maligned for its antisocial hours, said to be causing disruption to sleep patterns and family life, and impacting on general health.
But are there any upsides? While the benefits from the employer’s point of view may be obvious, shift work can have some advantages for employees.
While working in shifts is obviously not the same as flexi-working, employees do have the option of choosing the shifts they prefer. In this way, a person who has school age children can work until mornings and early afternoon, while someone with other daytime commitments may prefer to work evenings or nights.
When it comes to taking leave, say for a school appointment or to go to the dentist, it is often possible to book ahead so that the work scheduler will accommodate individual needs.
There is a certain sense of freedom and improved job satisfaction that comes from having a degree of flexibility in your working hours.
Whether it’s spending more time with family or being able to go to the bank during office hours, shift working makes it possible – whilst technology, such as a shift planner makes it easier and far less stressful to manipulate.
2. More time, less congestion
Shift work offers a chance to avoid the daily rush hour, meaning a shorter commute with less traffic. From getting a seat on the train to being able to park more easily, it’s a much more pleasant way to get to and from work.
As a shift worker, you can structure your week in a way that suits your lifestyle, fitting in chores and errands during the week rather than having to save it all up for the weekend.
Benefits extend to leisure time hours too. Going shopping on a quiet Monday morning rather than a busy Saturday afternoon, using off-peak cinema tickets or gym memberships – whatever activity you choose, shift workers can do it when regular workers are busy with the 9 to 5 jobs.
3. Set hours, defined expectations
The beauty of shift work is that you know exactly when you start and finish work. Since someone else will be taking over your tasks at the end of your shift, there is no expectation to stay behind to ‘finish the job’.
Most regular full-time jobs will allocate responsibilities for tasks that need to be completed. With shift work, you only actually work the hours that you are paid for. Add to that the fact that night shifts offer better rates of pay than day shifts, and you can see why shift work might be very attractive indeed.
4. Better focus, fewer distractions
Working at unusual hours, with fewer people around generally, makes for a calmer and more focused work environment, which is good for productivity. With fewer distractions such as meetings, disruptions from managers and co-workers, you can pay more attention to the task in hand and make a better job of it.
Better still, in an out-of-hours environment there will be fewer colleagues to compete with, which means you have the opportunity to prove yourself to your superiors.
5. More learning opportunities
On-the-job experience is often underestimated, but in many ways it’s the best way to learn. With less staff on duty during antisocial hours, you may actually have to learn and practice new skills or take on responsibilities that take you outside your comfort zone.
This can be a good thing. It’s a real opportunity for self-improvement that may well stand you in good stead further down the line.