There are many types of shift patterns or rotas. We have developed manual methods and computer tools for generating shift patterns taking into account operational, contractual and "social" constraints. If you need any help with constructing a shift pattern please contact us with as much information as you can and we will be happy to assess it and get back to you. The sort of information we would be looking if appropriate and available:

  • Number of staff
  • Contracted weekly hours or annual hours
  • Current shift patterns
  • Shift start and finish times
  • Paid or unpaid mealbreaks? If unpaid, how long?
  • Continuous (24/7), semi-continuous (24 hours a day but not 7 days a week eg 24/6) or discontinuous (not 24 hours a day but could be 7 days a week)?
  • Number of staff required on each shift on each day of the week
  • If workload fluctuates workload (or staffing levels) by time of day, day of week, week in the year

"5 from 7" shift patterns

One very specific type of shift pattern is often described as a "5 from 7" in which an average of 5 shifts per week are worked. We have developed a tool, which you are free to use, that has the extra constraints that each person works their own fixed set of days with two consecutive rest days each week. If there is a solution it is unique.

Go to 5 from 7 shift pattern generator

An example

You specify the following shift levels required:

MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
5 5 5 5 5 5 5

The program derives the following unique solution. Essentially, 7 people are required, one on each of the possible consecutive rest day pairings, that is (Mon,Tue), (Tue,Wed), …, (Sun,Mon)

The program derives the following unique solution

Although the program assumes that each person works their own fixed set of days with two consecutive rest days, in this particular example, a reasonable looking 7-week shift pattern or rota for all seven people could be derived by joining the lines together.

shift pattern has just one shift

The above shift pattern has just one shift, the D (day) shift, and is a mix of working blocks of 5 or 6 shifts with rest day breaks of 2 or 3. The shift pattern below is the same rest day pattern but with alternating blocks of E's (earlies) and L's (lates) with some S's (spares) that can be worked as either early or late depending on what is needed. Each day there are two people on early, two on late and one spare.

same rest day pattern but with alternating blocks