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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.

Creating a Shift Pattern

Creating a brand new manning operation, budgeting for it, and presenting it to management, is a rare event. We have prepared this page to illustrate how to start. It isn't hard to do, and the example given is based on an actual client's request.

There are four steps to creating a shift pattern.

Step one is correctly assessing the number of shift workers required to cover your workload.

Step two is scheduling the shifts in a shift pattern.

Step three is about coving for absences so that your workload will be covered no matter what.

Step four is about implementing your solutions. 


The video at the top of the page gives another example of creating a shift pattern in our software VisualrotaX. In that example 12 hour shifts are used and the 232 shift pattern is used as a base.

If you would like us to help you create a shift pattern please email us at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call us on 01636 816466.



If you would like to learn how to create a shift pattern, we run day courses that take you right through the process, from concept to implementation. Please contact us if you would like to organise a day course for your organisation.

Designing a new shift pattern is a very rare event. So when you change shift patterns you want to know that you are selecting the right shift pattern for the right reasons. The shift pattern should match the workload and also help improve the work/life balance of your shift workers. Our on-line school is designed to teach you how to manage your shift operation.


Go to today and enrol on our shift scheduling course. The course will take you about five hours to complete and at the end you will have to tools and techniques to manage your shift schedule with minimal effort while optimising the operation. 

Staffing Specification Example

Create a staff schedule for a call centre manned by 2 people 24/7 with an additional 8-hour day shift Mon-Fri. The shifts must all be 8-hours . This means that the workload will be 376 hours per week or 19,605 hours per year.

Step One: Number of OperatorsShift Pattern 2

The first step is to work out the number of staff required. Generally for one person on at all times for 24/7 you will require 5 people. This value will vary dependant upon; breaks, contractual hours, handovers, absence rates, holiday management etc.

In this example the operation will require approximately 11 people. For more acurate assessment our book (e-book) Calculating How Many Staff Do You Need provides detailed examples. 

Step Two: The Shift Pattern

Next you need to create the shifts. The shift length is an important consideration, if it's too long your staff can become fatigued, if it's too short there will not be the incentive to come into work.

In this example all shifts are 8-hours. There is the option to create a mixture of 8 and 12-hour shifts or any other combination. Longer shift lengths are advisable (if fatigue is not an issue), as it limits the number of commutes and maximises time off. 

Once you choose which shifts to go for, you then select the base pattern. This pattern should incorporate the working requirements of the staff, e.g. whole weekends off, holidays included, maximum of 5 consecutive shifts, etc. Our website offers a variety of shift patterns starting from £1 per shift schedule.

Introducing any change in a company can be fraught with difficulties. So it is a good idea to make the new shift arrangement more attractive to your workers than their current shift operation. We offer a change consultancy service, whereby we introduce and advise a best fit shift schedule and take you through the implementation. 

Step Three: Holidays and Absence

Holidays will make up most of your problems with shift patterns. A "holidays included shift pattern" will eliminate almost all these. Alternatively, a holiday management plan will be required. A holiday management plan is a set of rules under which a worker can take their holiday without effecting the operation.

Absences will be the next biggest problem. In the UK the average sickness rate for a public sector worker is 2.6% and 1.6% for a private sector worker. For more information on sickness rates and absences please see our blog.

Step Four: Consultation and Implementation

The first step to implementing this change is to ensure that the shift pattern matches any legal constraits and will be acceptable to both the company and employees. Consulting with them through one-on-one discussions, presentations and questionnaires is a good way to find out their view and concerns and engage them in the change process. We offer a change consultancy service, whereby we introduce and advise a best fit shift schedule and take you through the implementation. 

Example Solution

Below is an example of a shift pattern using "Holidays Included" within the shift pattern and Banked Hours to cover for sickness. This is an 11 week rotating shift pattern using the 7on-2off as a base, which matched the example workload. In this example we extended the night shift to 10 hours and reduced the late shift to 6 hours. So it makes for a better work-life balance.

Shift Pattern 1

For more help creating a shift pattern, our sister website shows you all the different options availible.