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Libby Marks

12 Work Schedules Every Manager Should Understand

Wondering which work schedule will work for your business? Our comprehensive guide explains all your options.

Work schedules are concerned with when, how, and where you work. And they can be applied to individual employees or multiple teams. 

For some sectors, work schedules are extremely complex - such as balancing multiple teams to deliver 24-hour operations. In others, work schedules seem so obvious. Just get people into the office, Monday to Friday, 9-to-5. Right?

Not necessarily. 

Work schedules are about so much more than just plowing through work and making a profit. Strategic work scheduling can deliver other benefits - like increased productivity, higher staff satisfaction, and improved employer brand. 

Starting with the very basics - and moving onto some pretty complicated stuff - this complete guide to work schedules explores: 

  • Where people work - onsite, remote, and hybrid 
  • How people work - synchronous vs asynchronous 
  • When people work - different shift patterns employers can adopt


  • Discover the difference between common work schedules - like the 2-2-3 and 9-80 approaches 
  • Learn the pros and cons of each, as well as which industries they work best for
  • See sample work schedule timetables so you can understand the intricacies

In this complete guide to work schedules:

1. Onsite working schedule

2. Remote working schedule

3. Hybrid work schedule

4. Synchronous work schedule

5. Asynchronous work schedule

6. Flexitime work schedule

7. The 9-to-5 work schedule

8. Compressed/short working week

9. The 4-10 work schedule

10. The 9-80 schedule

11. The 2-2-3 work schedule

12. Four-on, four-off work schedule

1. Onsite working schedule

What is an onsite working schedule?

This is an obvious one so we won’t labor it. Onsite work requires people to be present in a specific location during their working day. For example, construction, healthcare, and retail. People who work onsite have little to no opportunity to work from home - often because they need access to specific equipment or work directly with members of the public. 

Many office-based businesses used to require employees to be onsite too, to keep an eye on employee activities. However, that approach has changed in the last five years. Gallup research shows in 2019, 60 percent of remote-capable employees spent their full working week onsite. By 2023, that had fallen to just 20 percent...

What does onsite work look like?

In a typical Monday to Friday, an onsite work role looks like this. Of course, many onsite workers - specifically customer-facing roles in retail and hospitality - may work weekends to meet customer needs. 

Onsite working: pros and cons


  • Boundaries: Having a ‘place of work’ creates a clear distinction between work and home. This can help employees focus at work and relax in their leisure time. 
  • In-person interactions: Employees get to know one another in person and can build strong working relationships that benefit them and the business.
  • Management: Managers may feel it is easier to maintain productivity and motivation when they have employees on-site with them.


  • Costs to employee: Onsite work requires employees to incur costs - such as the cost of their commute - which can make the role less attractive.
  • Limited flexibility: Onsite work provides little flexibility for employees with other commitments - such as childcare, or helping care for elderly relatives - which can limit the pool of applicants.
  • Employee preference: Some employees may feel more comfortable working from a place of their choosing. Research from Harvard Business Review, for example, found women of color in the tech industry prefer remote work due to racism and sexism in the workplace.

Which industries benefit from onsite working?

There’s an argument that businesses that don’t NEED people onsite, shouldn’t require people onsite. Onsite working is best for businesses that need their employees in a specific place to deliver services, such as:

  • Retail and hospitality
  • Leisure and entertainment
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare

2. Remote working schedule

What is a remote working schedule?

A remote working schedule sees employees working fully remotely. They aren’t required to work from a specific location at all. They may work at home, from a coworking space, from a neighborhood cafe…

Remote working embraces the concept of anywhere-productivity. Meaning that, so long as people do their work to the required quality, it doesn’t matter where they do it from. It’s facilitated by collaborative cloud technology that lets people access their work online, from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Businesses may have evolved to become fully remote - in response to lockdowns, for example - and still have staff based mostly in one geographic location. 

Or they may be remote-by-design and hire people from around the world (like we do!). Remote-by-design organizations need to address operational questions around how to collaborate across different timezones - see the asynchronous work schedule below.

Remote working: pros and cons


  • Cost and time savings: Remote working reduces financial and physical costs for employees - such as lengthy, expensive commutes and the cost of workwear.
  • Work-life balance: With no commute and more flexibility in how to structure their day, many employees enjoy better work-life balance and emotional health.
  • Productivity: With fewer workplace distractions, 62% of employees feel they’re more productive working from home. 
  • Business benefits: Businesses cite a range of reasons for embracing remote work including staff well-being (79%), reduced overheads (49%), and increased productivity (48%).


  • Work-life boundaries: Some employees find it hard to switch off when their home is also their workplace. Employers need to help workers set and observe clear boundaries.
  • Isolation: Some employees work better when they’re around others. Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation - and make it harder to build a strong company culture.
  • Communication challenges: 48% of remote employees cite being ‘harder to work with others’ as a key disadvantage. Plus remote work has famously increased disruptive meetings - there were 60% more remote meetings per employee in 2022 as compared to 2020.

Which industries benefit from remote working?

Any business that doesn’t need people onsite to deliver its services and sees strategic value in moving to this working model. For example:

  • Knowledge work
  • Software development
  • Content creation, design, and marketing
  • Consulting and coaching
  • Accountancy 

3. Hybrid work schedule

What is a hybrid work schedule?

A hybrid work schedule combines working onsite and working remotely.  It’s an increasingly popular halfway house that balances the desire of employers to have staff in a specific location, with the demand from employees for working from home. Research has found 9 in 10 remote workers prefer the hybrid approach

In a hybrid working arrangement, employees divide their time between a physical location - such as an office - and a remote location - like their house. 

This seeks to offer access to resources, structure, and social aspects of onsite work, with the flexibility, lifestyle benefits, and reduced costs of working from home.

What does a hybrid work schedule look like?

This will depend entirely on the pattern agreed between employers and employees. 

Some businesses may give people free choice over the days they spend onsite, providing they’re onsite for a specific number of days a week. Others may specify days they need employees onsite - for example, to support in-person team meetings.

Hybrid work schedule: pros and cons


  • Flexibility: Hybrid work schedules can offer employees some of the flexibility they desire, which can improve satisfaction, recruitment, and retention. 
  • Reduced costs: Employees incur fewer costs associated with onsite work, and employers can potentially cut costs by downsizing office space and saving on utilities.
  • Diversity: More flexible working practices can support equality and diversity goals by reducing unnecessary barriers to the workplace - such as rigid, 9-5 onsite expectations. 


  • Communication: Hybrid workplaces can make communication challenges, trying to find the best way to keep in touch with people who may span onsite and remote locations.
  • Maintaining company culture: Just like remote working, a hybrid work schedule can make it hard to build a strong company culture, due to fewer in-person interactions.
  • Proximity bias: Employees who choose to work more remotely may be perceived as less committed than those who are more regularly visible in the workplace - this proximity bias can reinforce stereotypes and discrimination.

Which industries benefit from a hybrid work schedule?

Any business can benefit from a hybrid work schedule, providing it is implemented fairly and mindfully. Even businesses that require some onsite attendance to deliver services can do so in a way that still allows working from home when appropriate.

4. Synchronous work schedule

What is a synchronous work schedule?

A synchronous work schedule involves employees working together in real time, even if they are not physically present in the same location. Unlike asynchronous work, where individuals operate independently at different times.

Synchronous work emphasizes the importance of immediate communication and coordination. Team members engage in tasks, meetings, and discussions collectively, regardless of their physical whereabouts. This approach is supported by various online tools and communication platforms that enable real-time interaction and collaboration.

Traditionally, most businesses have operated via synchronous working. However, globalization, the trend towards fully remote work, and the growth of online communication technology mean that it is no longer the only way - see asynchronous working below for more on that.  

What does a synchronous work schedule look like?

This table is a little different from the others because it isn’t about where people are working, it’s about what they’re doing. In this example, we’ve assumed people are working a 9-to-5 Mon-Fri schedule, and shown how they might be working together.

Synchronous work schedule: pros and cons


  • Real-time collaboration: Synchronous working allows for immediate collaboration and communication, fostering dynamic teamwork and quick decision-making.
  • Team relationships: Team members can feel more connected when working in real-time, reducing feelings of isolation and strengthening team bonds.
  • Speed: Issues and challenges can be addressed promptly, preventing delays and ensuring the efficient progress of projects.


  • Timezone challenges: Synchronous schedules work if everyone is in the same timezone but gets trickier to coordinate if people have significantly different working hours.
  • Productivity: Synchronous work can reduce opportunities for focused, uninterrupted work due to the expectation of constant availability for colleagues and (possibly) customers.
  • Speed: Real-time, in-person decision-making can be a challenge for introverted personalities and people who like to mull problems over - this can limit their ability to contribute to your business. 

Which industries benefit from a synchronous work schedule?

Synchronous work can work for most businesses and industries. In particular

  • Businesses that operate in a single timezone
  • Dynamic businesses that need a quick turnaround for decision-making
  • Businesses that need set working hours to deliver services to customers

5. Asynchronous work schedule

What is an asynchronous work schedule?

An asynchronous work schedule is the opposite of synchronous working.

Often shortened to ‘async’, an asynchronous work schedule involves employees working independently and flexibly, without the need for simultaneous collaboration. It’s what we do here at Runn - read how Runn makes async work for our happy and productive global team

In the async working model, everyone has the freedom to choose when and where they work - providing they meet their contracted hours and any specific deadlines. There’s no requirement for real-time interaction - the organization puts tools and processes in place to help people collaborate - just not at the same time. 

Asynchronous work relies on online communication tools, project management platforms, and shared documentation. This allows team members to be located in different time zones. Watch our Chief Product Officer Felipe Skroski talk about this with ProductTank.

Asynchronous work schedule: pros and cons


  • Flexibility and autonomy: Asynchronous work provides individuals with the flexibility to choose when they work, improving work-life balance, and increasing employee autonomy, which is proven to be beneficial.
  • Productivity: Async work allows for deep focus and productivity, as the workday is less prone to interruption, and people can work when and where they get the most done.
  • Global workforce: By removing the barriers of needing to work synchronously, businesses open themselves up to a truly global workforce and can choose top talent, wherever they’re based.


  • Slower: Async work is undeniably slower, which may be a disadvantage in more immediate, dynamic businesses - but the flipside is that it’s better for more considered decision-making.
  • Lack of spontaneity: Async working has fewer opportunities for those on-the-spot moments of interaction and inspiration when two great minds meet over the office water cooler.
  • Reliance on technology: Async collaboration relies heavily on communication technologies and infrastructure, which may be a disadvantage to less tech-orientated businesses. 

 We’re all in on async - for info and inspo, read our guide to running async meetings.

Which industries benefit from an asynchronous work schedule?

Async working is a viable option for more businesses than you’d expect. It’s especially suitable for:

  • Fully remote or global businesses
  • Project- and task-based businesses
  • Businesses that don’t need immediate, on-the-spot decision-making 
  • Knowledge-based businesses, where individuals generate value through focused activity
  • Leaders willing to put a little extra effort into devising new working processes

6. Flexitime work schedule

What is a flexitime work schedule?

A flexitime work schedule allows employees the flexibility to determine their own daily work hours. However, the employer usually stipulates a core time period within which those hours should be worked. 

For example, employees can choose to work any 7 hours within a 6am to 8pm window. But they must be around from 1pm to 3pm as this is when meetings are scheduled.

Unlike traditional fixed 9-to-5 schedules, flexitime empowers individuals to choose when they start and finish their workday - providing they are available at key employer-specified times.  This differs slightly from async working, where people have complete freedom to choose when they work. 

Flexitime aims to accommodate personal preferences and individual productivity patterns - allowing people to shape their workday around what works for them. It could be worked onsite, remote, or hybrid. And it may include weekends too.

What does a flexitime work schedule look like?

As with other flexible work schedules described here, a flexitime schedule is specific to every individual. The example below is just an illustration of how it could work for one person. This isn’t a template for a whole team. 

Flexitime work schedule: pros and cons


  • Work-life balance: Flexitime offers better work-life balance by allowing employees to adapt their schedules to personal needs, such as family commitments or personal hobbies
  • Employee satisfaction: Better work-life balance can lead to higher employee satisfaction, as well as supporting employer brand, recruitment and retention targets
  • Productivity: Flexitime enables employees to work during their most productive hours - whether they’re an early bird or a night owl - it’s a great way to get the best out of people


  • Coordination: Coordinating team collaboration can be a challenge, especially if there is a significant variation in individual schedules
  • Core hours: Some flexitime schedules have core hours where all employees need to be present - this can limit the flexibility for certain team members
  • Planning and management: Managing and overseeing employee hours becomes more complex - but this can be easily overcome with appropriate resource management software

Which industries benefit from a flexitime work schedule?

Any industry where the nature of the work allows for flexibility in scheduling - and where employers recognize the benefit of better work-life balance. For example

  • Technology and IT
  • Creative industries 
  • Professional services 
  • Research and development
  • Knowledge work with project-oriented tasks

7. The 9-to-5 work schedule 

What is the 9-to-5 work schedule?

Dolly Parton might not have been a fan of it, but working 9 to 5 is still the standard schedule for most office-based businesses. 

It’s so common it needs little explanation. But in case you’ve never come across it - if you’re from the moon or were raised in a Millenium bug bunker - it works like this.

People work a standard pattern, week in, week out. Typically Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm, with a midday break for lunch. 

The 9-to-5 is easy to predict and manage, which makes it popular with businesses. And it creates a standardized workday across different industries, which helps business-to-business operations flow. 

However, it does lack flexibility and the focus is firmly on what works best for the business, rather than its people. Because of this, it’s started falling out of favor in recent years. 

As employees seek better work-life balance, many employers are exploring more flexible arrangements, in a bid to improve recruitment and retention.

9-to-5 work schedule: pros and cons


  • Ease: Planning and managing a workforce that has a standard 9-to-5 work pattern is easier than planning and scheduling different shift patterns. 
  • Synchronized collaboration: Team members (in the same timezone) work the same standard hours. This helps people collaborate in real-time.
  • Predictable routine: People know exactly when they’re expected to work - there’s no ambiguity. This helps people plan their lives and create a clear distinction between work and home. 


  • Limited flexibility: The 9-to-5 schedule is fairly inflexible. Its like-it-or-lump-it approach can feel unnecessarily restrictive for people who want more control over work-life balance.
  • Can require overtime: If businesses require out-of-hours cover, this requires people to work overtime - at a cost to the business and the employee.  
  • Not ideal for international teams: For businesses operating across different time zones, a rigid 9-to-5 work schedule can limit opportunities for real-time collaboration. 

Which industries are best suited to a 9-to-5 work schedule? 

We’d argue there’s no need for modern businesses to stick rigidly to 9-to-5 work patterns. However, it’s typically found in

  • Traditional office settings
  • Businesses with standard trading hours
  • Businesses operating in a single timezone 
  • Late adopters of ‘future of work’ trends 🤭

8. Compressed/short working week 

What is a compressed working week?

A compressed working week condenses the traditional five-day working week into fewer days. Various models of this exist. 

  • Some businesses simply drop one day a week and keep the working day the same length. This reduces employee hours by a fifth.
  • Others lengthen the working day, meaning employees do the same number of hours, but across fewer days (see 4-10 and 9-80 work schedules below).

Compressed working weeks have grown in popularity since the pandemic - both with employees and their employers.

Businesses bank on longer weekends increasing people’s focus, engagement, and mental acuity when they are at work. And employees value an extra day to spend on hobbies and home life.  

Compressed working week: pros and cons


  • Better for employees: A shorter work week can contribute to better work-life balance and lower costs for employees - from enjoying extended weekends to commuting one less day each week
  • Recruitment and retention: A condensed working week can be attractive to employees - supporting recruitment and retention targets
  • Reduced overheads: If you fully close for an additional day each week - without extending the work day - you may save on the cost of heating, cooling, lighting, and staffing your workplace


  • Longer workdays: If you choose to implement longer work days, employees might experience fatigue that can reduce their performance as the day goes on - plus longer work days may not suit everyone, for example, parents with young children
  • Reduced capacity: If you choose to keep work days the same length, you may reduce your capacity, which can be a problem if you have standard production targets 
  • Customer service: You will need to stagger people’s working weeks if you want to provide the same level of service to customers, eg. Monday to Friday

Which industries are suitable for a compressed working week?

  • Businesses seeking a recruitment advantage in a competitive talent landscape
  • Project-based businesses that can adapt their workload to suit staff capacity
  • Businesses that don’t need to work a Mon-Fri schedule

9. The 4-10 work schedule

What is the 4-10 work schedule?

The 4-10 work schedule is an example of a compressed working week. The name is derived from the fact employees work 4 x 10-hour days each week. The other three days are free to do as they please. 

The pros and cons are very similar to the compressed working week described above - so we won’t repeat ourselves. Just remember you probably won’t save on overheads as your workplace will be open for the same number of hours. 

10. The 9-80 schedule 

What is the 9-80 schedule?

The 9-80 work schedule is another example of a compressed working week. In this pattern, instead of working 10 standard-length days a fortnight, people work nine slightly longer days. This gives them the advantage of a three-day weekend every two weeks, without having to significantly extend their work day.

It’s called the 9-80 schedule because the 9 days add up to 80 hours of work in total. Typically, a 9-80 schedule comprises 8 x 9-hour days and 1 x 8-hour day per fortnight (see below). 

It’s a popular compromise for organizations that want to give staff longer breaks, without them having to work 10-hour days to achieve it.    

9-80 schedule: pros and cons


  • Extended weekends: Employees get the benefit of an extended weekend once a fortnight - this contributes to a (somewhat) better work-life balance
  • Days aren’t much longer: Unlike a fully compressed workweek - which crams all the hours into 8 days - the 9-80 schedule doesn’t extend the day too much
  • Recruitment and retention: As above, a condensed working week can be attractive to employees and support your employer brand


  • Fatigue: Even slightly longer days may contribute to increased employee fatigue, reducing the benefit of that extra day off each fortnight 
  • Coordination: If people have different days off, it can introduce coordination challenges if they need to work together on projects
  • Employee preference: Some people may love this work schedule but it might not work for people who’d prefer standard length days and a five-day week

Which industries are best suited to a 9-80 work schedule?

Any business could build flexibility into their employer offer by introducing a 9-80 work schedule. For example

  • Any business that doesn’t need people onsite/available Mon-Fri every week
  • Project-based businesses with well-defined tasks and deadlines
  • Professional service firms serving clients that expect longer working hours 

11. The 2-2-3 work schedule 

What is a 2-2-3 work schedule?

The 2-2-3 work schedule is a complicated one. That’s because it doesn’t just relate to individuals but to teams. It’s designed for businesses that need an easy way to staff 24/7 operations. 

Strap in for this one… 

A 2-2-3 work schedule staggers the work of four separate teams in a rolling two-week schedule. 

In a 2-2-3 work schedule, each team works the following pattern. 

  • Two days at work
  • Two days off
  • Three days at work
  • Two days off
  • Two days at work
  • Three days off

Each ‘day’ is divided into a day and a night shift, each worked by a different team. And the weeks are staggered, so that when two teams are working, two teams are off. 

This pattern means the business achieves 24/7 coverage between the four teams, without burning out its employees. Team members benefit from a 50/50 split between working and non-working days, never working more than three days in a row, and having a three-day ‘weekend’ every fortnight. 

There are different variations on the 2-2-3 work schedule - like the 2-3-2 - and you might hear them called different things - like the Pitman schedule or the Panama schedule. The overarching concept is the same.

The 2-2-3 work schedule: pros and cons


  • Less burnout: More time off - seven days in 14 - can reduce the risk of burnout for people who work 12-hour shifts and/or antisocial hours
  • Easy to plan and manage: This work pattern is a predictable way for businesses to plan and manage 24/7 operations 
  • Fewer shift changes: Handovers between shifts can be time-consuming and a source of risk - having 2 x 12-hour shifts reduces the number required


  • Body clock disruption: While the brain might accept the 2-2-3 pattern, the body may struggle. The alternation between workdays and shift patterns may disrupt the body clock and cause fatigue
  • Recruitment and retention: 2-2-3 may work for some people but not for others, causing challenges for recruitment and retention
  • Employee preferences: People may have a preference for one type of shift more than another, which risks fluctuating engagement and satisfaction 

Which industries are best suited to a 2-2-3 work schedule?

If you’re reading about the 2-2-3 work schedule - and you have a standard 9-to-5 job - it may seem quite extreme. But it’s common in sectors that operate 24 hours a day AND require a physical presence to deliver services. For example

  • Manufacturing 
  • Healthcare
  • Emergency services

However, due to the cons described above, it’s best reserved for businesses that NEED 24/7 operations. 

We think you’d struggle to justify introducing it in a graphic design agency, for example. If you aspire to 24/7 operations in a professional services firm, that could be better achieved through using remote employees in different time zones. 

12. Four-on, four-off work schedule 

What is a four-on, four-off work schedule?

A four-on, four-off work schedule involves employees working in consecutive blocks of four days followed by four days off. It’s a work schedule often found in industries that need continuous operations - often for work that puts a physical or emotional strain on employees. Typically - but not exclusively - these will be 12-hour shifts and may include working day and night shifts.  

By working four days on, four days off, employees get a significant break to recharge between work. This opportunity for R&R can make challenging jobs more palatable and improve work-life balance. It also provides employers with a predictable and easy-to-manage way to allocate employees.

Four on, four off work schedule: pros and cons


  • Extended breaks: Employees enjoy an extended break between each period of work, giving them more time to do the things they love to do - plus lower commuting costs
  • Consistency: Four on, four off schedules are completely predictable, so people can plan their lives with confidence. This predictability is good for employers too…
  • 24/7 cover: Organizations can easily plan and manage 24-hour-a-day operations while minimizing the risk of employee burnout 


  • Antisocial hours: Typically this pattern requires people to work 12-hour shifts - sometimes antisocial hours - that can lead to fatigue and lower staff satisfaction
  • Adaptation challenges: Like all night-shift patterns, adjusting to night shifts can introduce problems with sleep patterns and overall wellbeing
  • Recruitment issues: Employers may find it difficult to recruit and retain employees on antisocial hours - though the appeal of extended time off between work blocks may lessen that problem

Which industries benefit from a four-on, four-off shift pattern?

Any industry with continuous operations and a need for round-the-clock coverage. For example:

  • Emergency services (police, fire, medical)
  • Manufacturing and production plants
  • Energy and utilities (power plants, oil refineries)
  • Transportation and logistics (airports, shipping)
  • Healthcare (hospitals, nursing homes)

Manage work schedules like a master - with Runn

Whatever work schedule you decide to implement, you need a way to manage it effectively. 

It’s clear that organizations using more complicated work schedules - like the 2-2-3 - need a way to keep on top of the complexity. 

But even if you’re simply using the 9-to-5 work schedule, there’s a lot of nuance. 

People working part-time, taking leave, off sick, off-ramping towards retirement, or changing jobs.

These factors all impact your capacity to deliver work on time, to distribute it to the best people, and to take on new opportunities.

Resource scheduling software like Runn provides you with complete transparency and clarity into

  • People’s work patterns 
  • Their availability
  • Their capacity
  • Your organizational capacity 
  • Your resource utilization

It also lets you easily allocate people to specific projects or tasks - and keep workload manageable and fairly distributed.

This is people-centric workforce planning at its best. It’s good for business, great for productivity, and kinder to your employees.

Try Runn today - for free - with our 14-day no-strings trial

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