The New Digital Age Shift Schedules

Old time punch cards for time clocks

You may have noticed that it is more and more difficult to find shift hours that perfectly suit your life. We have, too. Over the past two decades we have seen traditional shifts begin to  disappear, new shifts being created, and work hours covering 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

A 24/7/365 World

In the last century, shifts were designed around the needs of the Industrial Age. Manufacturers and Distributors typically worked Monday through Friday 7 AM to 3 PM, or thereabouts. Office workers worked from 9 AM to 5:00 PM. When more output was required, 2nd and 3rd shifts were added. Those hours were normally 3 PM to 11 PM, and 11 PM to 7 AM. Office hours stretched to 8 AM to 5 PM.

 As we left the Information Age and moved into the Digital Age, these shifts proved inadequate. They weren’t enough to cover the demands of a new economy.

Digital Age Shifts for a Digital World

You can order something online anytime, day or night. When you order, you expect delivery to be made within a day or two, and faster if you want to pay for it. To accommodate this change, companies that manufacture and distribute goods, have changed their schedules to match the needs of their customers (you and I are both part of this, especially if you’ve ever ordered anything from a company

Manufacturers are now operating leaner, doing more with fewer employees. To accommodate their customers needs, they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The companies that distribute what manufacturers make have service-level agreements with their clients that require that they ship your orders within a few hours of receiving. This means someone must be available take in new product, package products, and to ship the products at all hours. Now shifts start earlier, some as early as 5 AM. They also start later. We have a client who has a third shift start time of 3:00 AM, so they can accommodate bringing in product for their 1st shift, which starts at 6:00 AM. 

The traditional work week, Monday through Friday, has been replaced by three 12-hour days, or four 10-hour days, almost always including a weekend day. In some cases, companies need weekend-only shifts. This is the only way to operate 24-hour, 7 day a week, 365 days a year.

Be Flexible and Get Hired

There are still some companies with traditional shifts, some of which will never go away, because it makes sense for those businesses. But more and more companies need individuals who can be flexible in the hours they work to accommodate the business’ needs. 

If you can arrange your personal life to accommodate those schedules, you massively increase the odds finding steady work, full-time hours, higher pay, and long-term employment in a good company, with the chance to grow.