Managing 24/7

3 Critical Steps for Successfully

Expanding to a 24/7 Schedule


Thinking about expanding to a continuous 24/7 schedule? Or have you recently expanded within the past year? 

It can be helpful to think of the process as containing 3-steps. Fail to handle each step properly and you run the serious risk of having the entire process break down. 

1) Business case (i.e. Pre-Implementation) – The idea of maximizing asset utilization by running 24/7 sounds great to many plant and operation managers. But before deciding to expand, there should be a solid business case that shows there is enough business to support the increase in production. In fact, it’s best to experience and foresee a sustained demand for production.

For more information on establishing the business case:

2) Change Management (i.e. Implementation) – So, after careful deliberation and research, your company decides to expand to a continuous 24/7 schedule. Before the expansion begins, you recognize that it’s going to require a major cultural, organizational, and operational change.  Therefore you decide to make this change the right way by heavily involving the employees in the process, including:

  • Stating your business case to your workforce (i.e. avoid the risk of alienating the workforce by educating them on why you’re potentially asking them to have a major disruption to their lives)
  • Educating your employees on the various 24/7 schedule possibilities that are out there
  • Surveying your employees to allow them to have input into the new schedule,
  • And letting them pick the final 24/7 schedule.  

For more information on establishing the change management process:

3) Follow-Up Survey (i.e. Post-Implementation)One of the biggest mistakes that mangers can make is to simply convert to a 24/7 schedule and then forget about the employees.  

After all, many of the employees may not have worked a 24/7 schedule in the past, and even if the employees pick the schedule themselves, after getting a taste of the schedule, they may realize that it does not suit there needs like they thought it would.  After all, it may look good on paper, but once implemented, it may not feel as good to work.

In addition, the sometimes forgotten fact behind this change is that by converting from a 5-day operation, you have to significantly increase the size of your workforce.  Most companies that are running a 5-day operation use 3 crews and in some cases do not even fully staff all three crews.  However, to convert to a 24/7 operation, most companies utilize 4 crews and fully staff each of them. 

Frequently, a large number of employees are new hires that never had the chance to participate in the original scheduling education and survey process, and thus, did not have a say in the current 24/7 schedule.  In fact, we typically see on our follow-up surveys with companies that have made this 5 to 7-day conversion, that up to a third of their workforce is new (i.e., they were hired to help fill a 4th crew) and did not have a say in their current 24/7 schedule that they are working. 

In these cases, the current 24/7 schedule may not be satisfying your new employees’ needs, and therefore, may not be the best fit.  And when a schedule doesn’t met a large number of employees’ needs, this will lead to higher absenteeism, turnover, and health issues that will all affect your bottom line.

Therefore, a vital part of ensuring that your new 24/7 schedule satisfies all of your employees’ needs is to conduct a follow-up study after 1-year trial run with the new schedule to re evaluate how well the schedule meets both your new AND returning employees’ needs.  In addition, this study can also help you determine how the new schedule has affected their health, safety and productivity as well.

One way to accomplish this would be though a confidential follow-up survey that asks a series of questions aimed at determining how satisfied the current workforce is with the 24/7 schedule.  It would also be beneficial to ask a series of health and safety questions related to shiftwork to gauge as to whether these areas have gotten better, worse, or stayed the same.  This will give you hard data and allow you to quantify how well your workforce is actually doing on the new 24/7 schedule.  The health areas that shiftworkers tend to have more problems with, and that should be included in this follow-up survey, are sleep, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, and sleep apnea.

For more information about expanding your operation, or any other questions you may have concerning scheduling and shift work, please call CIRCADIAN at 781-439-6300 or email a specialist at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Next Steps:

•    On-Site Workshop: Successfully Expanding from 5- to 7-Day Operations - CIRCADIAN offers On-Site Seminars to help your entire team understand and learn how to manage the complexities and challenges of expanding operations.

•    Working Nights™ Newsletter – Monthly newsletter filled with tips and ideas to maximize the benefits of Working Nights (view free sample).

•    Working Nights™ Health & Safety Guide – This easy-to-read guide helps workers better adapt to the demands of shiftwork.

•    Fatigue Training Online – The premier online fatigue management training program for the 24/7 workforce.

Have a Question? Need Help?

For over 30 years, CIRCADIAN has been helping shiftwork operations around the world.  Feel free to contact us by clicking here.

Communication Breakdown:

Enhancing Workplace Communication at 24-Hour Operations


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Local: 1.781.439.6300


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Stoneham, MA, 02180, USA