Fixed schedules

What is a fixed schedule? Find advantages, disadvantages & our definition below

What do successful companies have in common? Stellar organization, punctuality, and healthy productivity levels. So how do ensure your business remains on top?

It all begins with your scheduling process. 

Schedules align workers, promotes accountability, and ensures timely task completion. But not all schedules are created equal. For instance, you can design schedules that are flexible, rotating, on-call, split shifts, part-time, full-time, or fixed. 

Some managers choose to use a mix of scheduling types, while others stick to only one. The most common is the fixed schedule. Read on to learn more about what a fixed schedule is and why it's good — or bad — to use.

What is a fixed schedule?

A fixed schedule is a work schedule that has a fixed timetable for employees. It normally contains the same workdays and hours each day. Since it's unchanging, it's considered fixed. It's common for fixed schedules to remain the same for weeks or even months at a time. 

These schedules are designed by management, who will come to an agreement with employees on the best days and times to operate. The type of business and industry will also determine the fixed schedule's timetable. 

For instance, a grocery store may have its stocking and cleaning crew working overnight when customers aren't in the way. 

Fixed work schedules are commonplace for several businesses. But to get a deeper understanding of why, check out these examples of fixed schedules.

What are examples of a fixed schedule?

In the US, the traditional fixed schedule is the 9-to-5 job. (Cue Dolly Parton’s song here.) This is typically the schedule arrangement for salaried workers and business professionals. In the past, it was difficult to cash a check, speak to a lawyer, or even talk to customer service reps after 5 p.m.

Over time, the schedules became more flexible to stay relevant among competitors that chose to stay open later. 

Today, you can find fixed schedules all around the clock. This includes working 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Or even overnight from 11 p.m to 7 a.m. 

Fixed schedules have the same hours and days each week. But not all professions have a Monday to Friday timetable. Some work Tuesday to Saturday or Sunday to Thursday. There are no specific days or hours, but it will remain at least 8 hours, five days per week for a full-time employee. 

For example, a restaurant chef may come in daily at 11 a.m. and leave by 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. Yet, a registered nurse may be on a fixed schedule working only three days a week but on 12-hour shifts. 

Part-time workers can also work on a fixed schedule. But their hours and days will fall beneath the 40-hour workweek. For instance, they may work eight hours per day, 3 days per week. Or five days a week for only four hours per day. 

There is a myriad of ways to formulate a fixed schedule. For example, the hours can vary day-to-day but remain consistent week-by-week. This may look something like this:

  • Monday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Tuesday - 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

  • Wednesday - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Friday - 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Saturday - 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Each week, the employee works the same hours and days. Again, it depends on the needs of the business and its customer base. Some organizations will extend their office hours to accommodate customers who work later. This gives them time to call or visit after work.

What are the advantages of fixed schedules?

Not sure if using a fixed schedule is ideal for your workplace? Then it's time to explore some of the benefits of using one. Here's a quick overview of the reasons some businesses opt for fixed schedules:

  • Easier for workers and their superiors to coordinate duties (i.e., teams that must collaborate on a project or task).

  • Managers can instruct and track the performance of employees working the same shift. 

  • Scheduling and holding team meetings and training sessions is easier when schedules are consistent and coordinated. 

  • Productivity increases since schedules are consistent, allowing employees to focus on project deadlines, company goals, and team initiatives. 

  • Operational costs reduce since the company doesn't have to accommodate employees after regular office hours (i.e. 5 p.m.).

  • Communication is convenient since everyone's working the same hours. 

  • Relationships between peers and superiors improve due to shared hours and workspaces. 

  • No worry of employees going off the grid or procrastinating due to a flexible, inconsistent schedule. 

  • Issues are addressed immediately since team leaders are present. 

  • Create a healthy work-life balance since employees know which days they have off each week. 

  • Overtime pay is available to employees who work past their scheduled time. 

  • Match unbalanced workloads to the best employees (i.e., night shift has lighter workload and needs unique skills, so specific workers are assigned to it). 

  • Many employees like fixed shifts and being able to choose the days and hours (if multiple shifts are available) they want to work.

This isn't an all-conclusive list of benefits of fixed schedules. But it paints a general picture of what you can expect if you go this route. Next, let's see some of the pitfalls fixed schedules may cause.

What are the disadvantages of fixed schedules?

Fixed schedules aren't flexible. This makes it susceptible to issues with making much-needed changes at a moment's notice. Here's a look at the downsides of operating with fixed schedules:

  • Reduces time employees can spend doing other essential things, like running important errands, taking courses, and focusing on personal growth/development. 

  • Tardiness and absenteeism become a problem, especially when there are inconveniences like bad weather and heavy traffic.

  • Inconvenient for potential new hires who prefer a more flexible schedule. 

  • Restricts some employees who may have an emergency or circumstance that affects their productivity and punctuality.

  • Tough to recruit workers that desire a flexible schedule. 

  • Businesses can become segregated when there are multiple shifts. Crews may become independent, which can negatively affect productivity, quality, and performance. 

  • Problems with traffic, especially if work hours are traditional (i.e., 5 o'clock rush hour). 

  • Wasted hours when employees finish early but still have to stay on the clock until their schedule ends.

Employee dissatisfaction is one of the top concerns with fixed schedules. When there are multiple shift options, it's common for new employees to get the least desirable shift. You can avoid this by paying workers 10% to 15% more for those shifts.

How to decide if fixed scheduling is right for your business

It's time to decide whether a fixed schedule is ideal for your company. There are several areas you want to review when choosing, such as:

  • The industry

  • Your customer base

  • Employee preference

Let's start with the first. The industry you work in will be the first indicator of whether a fixed schedule is ideal. For example, if you're in the legal or finance industry, then it's typical to operate only during the day. 

That's because your clients don't need their services after hours or overnight. However, if you're in the food business, it's ideal to be open later and on weekends. People tend to shop for groceries after work and order takeout or dine out on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Then finally, your employees will play a role in the scheduling. For instance, you may have workers with families who may not be available to work overnight. Or students who need work hours to accommodate their school schedules.

How to simplify creating fixed schedules

Feel like fixed scheduling is the right move for your organization? Then using software will simplify creating and managing employee shifts. Deputy is a leading employee scheduling tool. It's designed to speed up the scheduling process using automation and collaboration. 

Managers use Deputy to schedule the right workers, at the right times, across various roles and locations. The schedules are also accessible to teams, so everyone knows where and when to show up each week. 

The platform shows real-time data on wages and sales to ensure you're within budget each quarter. Thanks to its labor demand forecasts, you can design schedules without overspending on wage costs. Keeping track of timesheets is entirely digital. 

Want to see how Deputy takes the time and frustration out of planning employees' fixed schedules? Then start your free trial today.