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Q&A – When should meetings for shiftworkers be scheduled?



If you need to schedule meetings with a night shift crew, you might find yourself wondering: when’s the best time for everyone to attend?  When will people be alert and present during a meeting? Can you hold meetings during daytime hours for night shift workers?

Let's start by going over the worst time to schedule meetings for the night shift: in the late morning or early afternoon, which is right in the middle of when they're sleeping. While a meeting at 10am makes sense for most day workers, such a meeting is the equivalent of calling day workers in to a 2am meeting. You wouldn't expect them to be alert and receptive to the information presented in the meeting at that time and so shouldn’t expect your night shift workers to be any more so in the middle of their “night.”

The best time to meet with your night staff is probably right before their shift starts. Let's say you need an hour for your meeting. If the night shift starts at 7 p.m., have them come in an hour early and pay them overtime for that hour. If they start at 11 p.m., having the meeting at 10 p.m. would be the most convenient for the night shift, but you might find that day-working managers may complain at having to go in so late. In cases where workers have a long commute, it makes even more sense to schedule meetings close to the start of their shift - it isn't reasonable for them to make two trips to work in a single night. And never mind the overtime you'd pay if you simply told workers to stay after the meeting and start work several hours early!

While it seems like a simple solution, holding over night shift workers for a meeting after their shift ends, from 7 to 8 a.m. isn’t a great choice. It seems convenient, especially for managers who work days and only need to arrive at work an hour or two early.

However, by the time 7 a.m. rolls around, many night shift workers have been awake for 24 continuous hours. Anyone who's ever pulled an all-nighter knows that it's difficult at best to focus your mind on something like a meeting after being awake that long. Chances are you'll be addressing walking zombies who can't concentrate on anything except getting home and going to bed! It's also best for night shift workers to go to bed as early as possible in the morning to minimize the chances that bright morning sunlight will interfere with sleep, and staying an extra hour for a meeting worsens those chances.

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