Contact Details

If you require further information on any of our services please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone or e-mail. All enquiries are extremely welcome.

T: 01636 816 466

The Old Vicarage
Station Road, Rolleston
NG23 5SE                              

Operational Research

You can always be more efficient

Operational Research is all about using analysis to improve decision making. Dr Angela Moore uses mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, optimisation, sequencing and scheduling techniques to create simple heuristics you can employ to run your operation more efficiently.

Staggered Lunch Breaks

Why is there always a queue when you want to get something done quickly during your lunch break? It's because we need more staggered lunch breaks and services need to have more staff available during heavy work periods.

Staggering breaks is easy; you need to build in the breaks as part of the planning process when managing the workload. Sometimes you could say that breaks will be taken as the workload allows. This works well with responsible staff and an unpredictable workload. Most workloads are predictable. So breaks can be worked in during the slow periods so that all staff are well rested and ready to work during the busy periods.

Let's take a typical retail workload. The workload will build up during the day with a peak around lunchtime and then reduce in the afternoon. Depending on opening hours and what is being sold, there may be a peak in the morning if people are dropping in before work or a peak in the afternoon if people are stopping by on their way home. The graph shows one such workload. The bars represent the shifts (5 in all) where they all start at 08:00 and finish at 20:00. They all have two 30 minute breaks but because they are staggered only one is off at a time. Their breaks are also outside of the busy periods. The black line shows the requirement, five are required during the morning, lunch time and in the evening.


Now breaks can be built in so that during peak periods all of the staff are available to serve. During slower periods they each have a break in turn.  Then each day the breaks are swapped around so that the system is fair. It is important to remember that everyone is entitled to a 20 minute break after six hours of work. So if everyone was on the same eight hour shift, then the breaks have to start between the third and sixth hour of the shift to be within the working time directive.

Split breaks may also be more beneficial to your staff than one long break, from a fatigue point of view, three twenty minute breaks can be better than one long break. Just a fifteen minute break can return a person's fatigue levels to where they were at the start of the shift. So if you want your staff to be alert and minimise mistakes consider more frequent shorter breaks.

If you would like to know more about managing shift operations we have a new shift scheduling course. Designing the right shift pattern is crucial for running an effective and efficient operation. That's why our shift scheduling course is about making your life easier. Giving you a better work/life balance, creating a perfect shift operation that meets your needs. The aim of the Shift Scheduling e-learning course is to provide you with the tools and techniques to implement an efficient shift operation. This cause is aimed at shift managers who run a small operation. It is also applicable to HR, finance and operations managers who would like to know more about shift pattern design and managing shift scheduling.


Click here to get started and go to our on-line school!