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11 Pros and Cons of Shift Work

Some businesses are required to operate continuously. In that type of setup, the hours of the day are typically broken into 2-4 daily shifts of 6-12 hours. Some businesses may also use shifts in a 3 days on, 4 days off format or something similar. The pros and cons of shift work can let you know if this type of schedule is right for you.

What Are the Pros of Shift Work?

1. It offers convenience to local employee candidates.
When there are multiple shifts available for workers, then it allows people to apply for a position that works best for their schedule. Someone taking morning classes at college, for example, could work second-shift hours and still work full-time while earning a degree.

2. It allows workers to avoid peak hours if they wish.
Commuting to work is a headache in itself for some workers. By working outside of the normal 8-5 time frame, people can drive to work without the same stress and traffic issues that come during rush hour. There is much less congestion, especially for workers on third shift.

3. It offers lifestyle benefits.
If you work in the evening, then you can go to the movies in the morning. Or you can fit a round of golf in at the cheaper morning rates if you wish. You can head to the gym when most of the membership is busy at work. You’ll find less congestion is also available for many of the places you like to go when you’re off of work.

4. It lets you get stuff done.
For many employees, their weekly chores and errands get put off because there just isn’t enough time in the day. They get up, go to work, and come home feeling exhausted. When engaged in shift work, there is a feeling of extra time to get things done and this allows many shift workers to enjoy their days off more often.

5. It offers flexibility.
Shift workers can often trade shifts with one another so that errands, appointments, or family issues can be resolved. This lowers the dependence some workers have on sick days or vacation benefits.

What Are the Cons of Shift Work?

1. Shift work often requires an abnormal routine.
If you’re working second shift, then your hours might be 4pm-12am. That means you’re working from an abnormal routine and at work when most other people are enjoying prime-time TV, BBQ parties, and other fun activities. It is difficult to schedule time to spend with family and friends who aren’t working the same shift.

2. Not everyone can choose their own shifts.
Many organizations which work on a shift-based system will often assign the best shifts to their most senior workers. This often means that the “best” and “worst” workers are all on the same shifts, creating the potential for production inequality.

3. Some workers may work more than others.
Shift work is also challenging because there may be differences in work responsibilities between the shifts. A third-shift worker might be more responsible for safety and monitoring, whereas a first-shift worker might be given direct care responsibilities. This can create tension between the various shifts.

4. It can change sleeping habits.
As people grow older, it becomes more difficult to establish habits that are required for alternate shift work. People working second or third shift may deal with issues like insomnia, high blood pressure, and substance abuse simply because they are trying to will their bodies to keep going.

5. It may create family issues.
If one parent is working first shift, while the second parent is working second or third shift, then it may feel like one person is forced into providing more of a support role for their children. It also becomes more difficult to schedule shared events together with the alternate schedules each person must work.

6. It can become repetitive and boring.
This is particularly true for third shift workers who have an overnight schedule. Most third-shift employees tend to work on their own, in silence, without access to outside resources. They even need to bring their own food from home in most instances since getting lunch at 4am can be a difficult ask.

The pros and cons of shift work show that it can be highly beneficial to workers who want or need an alternative schedule. It also allows a company to operate continuously. It isn’t without any potential concerns, however, so each key point must be carefully weighed before making the best possible decision.

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