Fixed Schedules: What Are They and How To Implement Them

Looking for a way to make it as easy as possible for your team members to remember when they work? Try a fixed schedule.

In this article, you’ll learn what a fixed schedule is, how to implement one in your business, and the advantages and disadvantages that come with it.

Table of contents

What is a fixed schedule?

Woman at a restaurant looking at a menu

A fixed schedule is one in which an employee works set days and set hours for an extended period of time (or permanently).

One of the most common fixed schedules is the standard schedule: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break from noon to 1:00 p.m.

As familiar as everyone is with the standard model, it’s not the only option. You could choose a fixed schedule of Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or any combination that works for your business.

The determining factor is that the schedule doesn’t change from one day, week, or month to the next. Most fixed schedules are always in effect — think of an office environment that works the standard schedule year round.

That being said, you may choose to implement such a roster for any period of time (e.g., a week, a month, three months, etc.) as long as the time worked stays static.

Advantages of a fixed schedule

Server at a restaurant on a fixed schedule

1) Work-life balance

A fixed schedule makes it easier for your team members to plan and schedule their lives off the job.

This can often allow for a better work-life balance and contribute to other intangible benefits, including:

Additionally, if some on your team work remotely, a fixed schedule can help them separate their work life from their personal life more effectively.

2) Team collaboration

When everyone on your team works the same schedule, it becomes much easier for them to collaborate on projects or tasks.

This also makes it easier for managers to coordinate employee activities for maximum success because everyone is in the office (or online) at the same time.

3) Work day consistency

Consistency within the work day and the work week is fundamental to the success of your team. The fixed nature of this type of schedule might allow them to channel more of their energy, not into when they have to work, but into what they’re working on at the time.

When they know that they’re working the same days and times week after week, they may find it easier to focus on team initiatives, company goals, and project deadlines.

4) Long-term planning benefits

A fixed schedule can also benefit the business itself by making it easier to plan for the long term.

With the consistency that comes from your team working the same days and times week after week, you’ll be better able to predict labor costs, number of employees needed, and a whole host of other variables.


Disadvantages of a fixed schedule

Waitress who works a fixed schedule taking an order from customers

1) Tardiness and absenteeism

If employees can’t find ways to schedule their personal lives outside of regular work hours, tardiness and absenteeism may become an issue.

In most cases, you can fix the problem (or, at least address it) by implementing a company-wide attendance policy that outlines how employees can get time off for important appointments.

2) New hires’ expectations

For some, the freedom of a flexible schedule may be more enticing than the consistency of a fixed schedule.

Potential new hires may see it as a negative that they have to be at work Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and may choose not to work for your business because of it.

3) Division among employees on different shifts

If one set of employees always works 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and another set of employees always works 4:00 p.m. to midnight, your business can become divided along shift lines.

Such divisions can lead to animosity among teams that can be counterproductive for your business.

4) Potential for wasted time

In some cases, if an employee finishes their work before the shift ends and you don’t have anything else for them to do that day, they may have to stay clocked in while others continue to work.

Normally, you would simply ask that employee to help another employee, but the rigidness of a fixed schedule can be the cause of wasted time within your business.

How to implement a fixed schedule for your team

bartender on a fixed schedule

1) Choose the days your business will be open

Your business might choose the standard model and schedule team members to work Monday through Friday. Or, your business may choose Monday through Saturday, Wednesday through Sunday, or whatever combination of days works best.

2) Set the hours your business will be open

Your business may need 24-hour coverage, 16-hour coverage, 12-hour coverage, 8-hour coverage, or some number in-between.

When making your decision, consider the start and end times that might work best for your team.

3) Determine the number of shifts needed each day

If your business needs 24-hour coverage, you’ll likely need to divide the day into three shifts to make it all work (e.g., 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and midnight to 8:00 a.m.)

If you only need eight hours of coverage, you can probably get by with one shift per day.

4) Decide how long the fixed schedule will last

If your schedule isn’t permanent, you’ll need to decide how long you want the fixed calendar to last. A month is typically a sufficient amount of time to allow everyone to adapt, but you may choose to go longer or shorter according to business needs.

5) Schedule employees to work each shift

Once you’ve established the days, hours, shifts, and duration of the fixed schedule, you’re ready to choose the employees who will work each shift.

6) Roll out the new schedule

The final step of implementing a fixed schedule is to roll out the new calendar to your employees.

One of the best ways to do this is with a cloud-based distribution method (like that offered by Sling) that everyone can access on whatever device they choose to use.

Is a fixed schedule right for your restaurant?

Inside of a restaurant

If you run a restaurant or other food service operation, a fixed schedule may provide the stability your team needs to perform their jobs better.

If you think this type of timetable would work well for your business, consider trying it for a few weeks or a month to see how things go. If, after a sufficient testing period, it doesn’t seem to be working, you can always go back to the rota you had before.

That said, before you decide on whether the fixed schedule is right for your team or not, be sure to ask for their thoughts (either via survey, team meeting, or one-on-one meeting). After all, they’re the ones this will most affect.

Manage your schedule with Sling

two people cheering cocktails

Whether you choose a fixed schedule for your team or one of the many other types available, you can manage them all with the Sling suite of tools.

Sling can help you simplify even the most complicated schedule with powerful tools, such as:

  • Templates that make arranging complicated shifts a one-and-done endeavor
  • Automated notifications that reveal overlapping shifts and double-bookings in real time
  • Reminders that keep time-off, availability, and shift-trade requests visible while you schedule
  • Budget and overtime restrictions that prevent you from exceeding the numbers your business needs to thrive
  • Open shifts that let your employees bid on when they want to work
  • And much more

Try Sling for free and get the resources you need to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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