Leveraging the right work schedule for employees plays a vital role in improving resource management, efficiency, and customer service. Depending on the nature of the businesses, employers can choose to implement the schedule that works for their employees as well as customers.
For instance, a business that needs to serve its customers round the clock may opt for a work schedule that provides 24/7 coverage without any interruptions. Among various 24/7 timetable patterns existing today, the 2-2-3 work schedule has earned huge popularity among manufacturing industries and emergency service providers.
This schedule enables employees to work 2 to 3 consecutive shifts in a week with 2 to 3 consecutive days off. To know how to make it work for your business, check out this blog post that will uncover everything about the 2-2-3 work schedule, along with its different variations.
What Is a 2-2-3 Work Schedule?
2-2-3 (also called the Panama schedule) refers to a pattern in which each employee does a 12-hour shift in the rotational cycle of 28 days. This work schedule involves early morning to late night shifts to provide services round the clock.
As the name suggests, in the 2-2-3 schedule, the employees are divided into four groups and each set of employees work for two days, then get two consecutive days off, and then again work for three days. The following week, these employees get two days off, then work for 2 consecutive days and then get three days off. This work pattern repeats over every 28-day rotation period.
To understand it in a better way, consider teams A, B, C, and D working together in the Panama schedule.
- During the first two days of a week, team A and team B will work together, where team A will cover the day shift, and team B will work the night shift.
- For the next two days, both teams, A and B, will be on time off. To fill in, teams C and D will work the day and night shifts, respectively.
- Finally, for the next three days, again teams A and B will work their respective shifts, whereas teams C and D will be on time off.
- In the following week, teams C and D will work the day and night shifts for the next two days, whereas teams A and B will be on time off.
- During the next two days, now team C and D will be on time off, so to fill in, teams A and B will work day and night shifts, respectively.
- Now, for the rest three days, teams C and D will work, while A and B will be on time off.
However, teams swap their day shifts with the night shifts and vice versa on a fortnightly basis. For instance, a team that is working the day shift during the first two weeks of the cycle will do the night shift for the next two weeks.
Check this demonstrative example of 2-2-3 work schedule for a better comprehension:
Total Teams: 4
Rotational Cycle: 28-days
Here, all four teams work altogether in rotational shifts to provide 24-hour coverage, seven days a week. Employees working in 2-2-3 shift work fourteen 12-hour shifts in one month, which means that they have only 180 workdays per year. Thus, this schedule rewards employees with several days off and fewer work days than any other schedule.
Variations of 2-2-3 Work Schedule
To provide 24/7 coverage, many variations of this schedule, such as Pitman, DuPont and more, have been derived.
1. Panama Plus Schedule
This variation is similar to the Panama schedule; however, in addition to a 12-hour shift, it also involves an 8-hour work shift that comes every eight weeks. This shift has five teams that alternate between the 12-hour shifts and the 8-hour shifts.
Total Teams: 5
Rotational Cycle: 280-days
After repeating this pattern for a total of eight weeks, the teams work 8-hour workday shifts for two weeks in a row. This 8-hour shift gives employees a break from the long 12-hour shift.
The entire pattern that includes 12-hours and 8-hours shifts repeats for 40 weeks. That is, this schedule has a rotation period of 280 days in which employees will work for around 40-hours per week.
In this schedule with a rotation period of 280 days, each team follows the sequence as explained below-
- Repeat this pattern for 8 weeks- (2-day shifts, 2-days off, 3-day shifts, 2-days off, 2-day shifts, 3-days off)
- Do the 8-hour workday shift for two consecutive weeks
- Repeat this pattern for 8 weeks- (2-night shifts, 2-days off, 3-night shifts, 2-days off, 2-night shifts, 3-days off)
- Do the 8-hour workday shift for two consecutive weeks
- Repeat this pattern for 8 weeks- (2-days off, 2-day shifts, 3-days off, 2-day shifts, 2-days off, 3-day shifts)
- Do the 8-hour workday shift for two consecutive weeks
- Repeat this pattern for 8 weeks- (2-days off, 2-night shifts, 3-days off, 2-night shifts, 2-days off, 3-night shifts)
- Do the 8-hour workday shift for two consecutive weeks
This schedule with an 8-hour workday is mostly used in firms that need 24/7 coverage but also require an extra eight-hour shift to train the resources or complete some administrative work, such as in law enforcement agencies.
- Panama schedule provides 8-hour shifts for two weeks every two months that work as a stress reliever after hectic 12-hour shifts.
- In this shift, employees never work more than two-night shifts in a row.
- The schedule has a 12-hour long shift that can be tiring.
- The slow alteration between day and night shifts can impact employees’ sleep cycle.
2. Pitman Schedule
Like the Panama schedule, this pattern also has four teams that work 12-hour shifts. However, the major difference is in the rotation period, which is 14-days in the pitman schedule. This schedule is also referred to as 2-3-2, in which during the first-week employees work two shifts, then have two days off, and then work three more shifts. The next week, they have two days off, two days of shift, and again three days off.
There are two versions of a pitman schedule, and employers can choose to implement any one of them as per their needs and employees’ preferences.
- Fixed schedule: Here, the first team always works the day shift, and similarly, the second team works the night shift. That is, the teams are provided with fixed day or night shifts. For instance, team-1 will work the day shift during all the cycles, whereas team-2 will work the night shift in all cycles.
- Rotating schedule: Here, teams rotate like other variations so that during the first cycle one team works the day shift while the same team works the night shift during the next cycle.
Total Teams: 4
Rotational Cycle: 14-days
The Pitman shift is similar to the 2-2-3 or Panama schedule. However, the Pitman has a 14-day rotational cycle, unlike panama with 28-days cycle.
- In this schedule, the employees will never have to work more than three consecutive days.
- Employees can reap the benefits of a three-day long weekend every other week cycle.
- The slow rotation cycle can negatively impact employees’ routines and sleep schedules.
- The employees may have to work up to 60 hours in some weeks, which can affect their well-being.
3. DDNNOO Schedule
In this shift, three teams work together in 12-hour shifts in a 6-day rotating cycle.
This schedule requires three teams to work only four days in a 6-day cycle, including 2-day shifts and 2-night shifts. Have a look at this example to understand the working of this shift.
In a 6-day cycle,
- During the first two days, team-1 works the day shift, and team-3 covers the night hours.
- For the next two days, team-2 works the day shift and team-1 works the night shift.
- In the last 2-days of the cycle, team-3 works the day shift, and team-2 covers the night shift.
Total Teams: 3
Rotational Cycle: 6-days
- This schedule needs only three teams to operate, unlike other variations.
- Each team gets a consecutive two-day weekend in each 6-day cycle.
- Employees may need to do 16 hours of overtime every week.
- The frequent alternating shift can disrupt the sleep schedule.
4. DuPont Schedule
DuPont calls for four teams working 12-hour shifts in a 4-week cycle. This schedule has four stages that every team needs to go through one by one during this cycle of 4-weeks.
Irrespective of what stage a team starts with, they’ll have to progress through all four stages before the cycle ends. One of the greatest benefits of this schedule variation is that it provides a complete week off every three weeks, which helps employees take adequate rest, perform essential errands, or plan a vacation.
Total teams: 4
Rotational Cycle: 28-days
- This schedule offers long weekends of seven consecutive days.
- This schedule has better predictability, allowing employees and managers to plan things beforehand.
- In some weeks, employees’ work time may stretch up to 72 hours which can cause burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion.
- This schedule has more risk of overworked employees.
- Employers may have a hard time finding a replacement for the employee who is on time off.
2-2-3 Schedule Free Template from Replicon
Employers can leverage our free 2-2-3 schedule template that can help them allocate their resources as per the Panama schedule to get round-the-clock services while calculating monthly paid hours and labor costs for each team.
To use the template,
- Mention the total number of employees and their respective details such as names, hourly rates, and so on.
- Now, divide these employees equally into four groups.
- Consider entering basic details of your company such as company name, company logo, address, phone number, etc.
- The time shift in the 2-2-3 schedule is 12-hr long, thus by default, the template will display the timings 8 AM to 8 PM for day shift and 8 PM to 8 AM for night shifts. However, you can change the shift timings as per your needs.
- Once you have input all the details, enter the ‘schedule start date’. Remember, as you enter this start date, the dates for the next 28 consecutive days will be updated automatically.
Since, the 2-2-3 schedule runs in a 28-day rotational cycle, the template will generate a schedule with an insight into how each team and respective employees will work on different shifts for the next 28 days. Besides, the template will also calculate the daily paid hours and labor costs against each day based on the team size. In fact, you can also find the monthly paid hours and labor costs at the bottom of each team column. Click the button below to start using the free template now.
Advantages & Disadvantages of 2-2-3 Work Schedule
Serve More Customers
This schedule lets you keep your business open for 24 hours and entertain more customer requests. Thus, businesses can gain more customers and generate higher revenue. For instance, a restaurant owner who usually keeps the business open from 10 am to 10 pm can serve more customers by keeping the restaurant open for 24 hours with the introduction of a 2-2-3 schedule.
The 2-2-3 schedule has a long shift that enables employees to focus on a specific set of tasks for an extended period. This way, they can complete their tasks before the end of the shift. Especially, the job that takes a longer time to complete can be done within a single day.
Better Work-Life Balance
This schedule enables employees to have a better work-life balance. The 2-2-3 shift provides 2-3 consecutive days off, which allows them to rest or spend quality time with their friends and family. They can plan a short trip or complete pending errands, such as visiting a bank, seeing a doctor, etc. Once they return to work after a break, they’ll be more energized and productive, as they’re well-rested.
Maximum Leaves Than Any Other Schedule
In this schedule, employees need to work only 180 days a year, which is less than half a year. Therefore, this schedule benefits employees with maximum days off than any other schedule. Extended leaves facilitate employees to plan a trip, complete other errands, or spend more time with family, which ultimately minimizes the chances of burnout in employees.
Shift Workers Are Prone to Health Issues
Working straight for 12 hours can result in several health issues in employees. Due to the extended 12 hours working in a 2-2-3 schedule, employees may develop poor eating habits, weight loss, insomnia, and even stress, especially if they extend the work hours even further in the absence of proper time management. In fact, shift workers are more prone to health problems, such as digestive upsets, obesity and heart diseases, according to research. In addition, working for more than 60 hours a week can also impact the immune system.
Disruption in the Sleep Cycle
Long work hours and rotational shifts can cause serious disruption in sleep patterns. Especially frequently switching between day and night shifts can disturb the sleep cycle, resulting in exhaustion and fatigue.
Plus, if employees work during the night shift, they may find it difficult to stay alert which also increases the likelihood of mistakes and accidents.
Strict Attention to State Labor Laws
Employers must comply with local labor laws and should ensure that they work within the legal framework. For instance, to implement an alternative schedule such as a 2-2-3 in California, employers are required to conduct a poll, and the proposed schedule must get approval from at least two-thirds of the employees. Employers also need to mail the poll results to the Department of Industrial Relationships within 30 days for consent and verification.
So, before implementing a schedule in your organization, consider consulting an attorney or lawyer to stay compliant with local labor laws.
Industries Where 2-2-3 Work Schedules Can Be Implemented
There are various industries that look forward to meeting customers’ demands round the clock. Such industries with extended business hours require employees to provide 24/7 coverage; however, it’s not possible for a single team to do that. In such cases, implementing a 2-2-3 work schedule can do wonders.
There are different 24/7 shift patterns available, yet organizations mostly opt for the 2-2-3 schedule. That’s because it’s less exhausting and more versatile than other schedules.
Tips for Implementing the 2-2-3 Work Schedule
Communicate with Employees
Before introducing this schedule in your organization, make sure your employees are well-acquainted with its working paradigm.
Ensure that they are clear about how the schedule works and how their shift will rotate in each cycle. This way, you can minimize the chances of any confusion about who needs to work on which day and on which shift. Plus, employees will be able to arrange their personal routines beforehand.
Choose a Time as per Employees’ Preference
It is recommended that you allot the shift time as per the convenience and choice of your employees. Though, in 2-2-3 schedule, each team needs to undergo through day and night shifts equally, however, in fixed variation types, such as pitman, you can assign fixed shifts as well. If some employees prefer to wake up early in the morning, then you can allot the morning shifts to them. You can consider others who would choose to work in the evening for the late shifts.
In other words, communicate with your employees and understand when they feel most productive in a day and what will be the suitable time for their work.
Encourage Ample Breaks
In long work shifts, taking breaks at certain intervals is essential to stay energized and productive, as tired employees find it difficult to focus and deliver quality work. In addition, exhausted employees are prone to make more mistakes during long shifts.
To prevent employees from being exhausted, you can recommend them to take short breaks. They can go for a walk, have a coffee, or take a small nap during this period. Breaks will help them rejuvenate and recharge so that they can work productively. You can also advise employees on using the Pomodoro technique that breaks the work schedule into 25-minute work sessions with a short break of 5 minutes in between.
In fact, encouraging breaks impacts employee retention as well. According to a Tork survey, 9 in 10 respondents said that they’re more likely to stay in a company where employers encourage their staff to take breaks.
Have Adequate Lighting
The right type of lighting in the office can greatly impact employees’ productivity and efficiency. For example, low light during the night shifts can stimulate drowsiness; on the other hand, too intense light can cause headaches and eye irritation.
That’s why it’s important to keep the light at a balanced intensity to stimulate alertness and concentration.
It has been observed that as it gets darker at dusk, our body starts releasing the melatonin hormone that causes sleepiness. Since this schedule involves night shift work, it’s necessary to keep offices well-lit. It’s advised to use an illuminance level of at least 1000 lux during the night shift to stimulate alertness while suppressing melatonin production in employees.
Moreover, the lighting color can also be varied according to the time of the day. For instance, office lighting should be mimicked to the natural sunlight spectrum to induce attentiveness.
Avoid Too Much Caffeine Intake
Usually, employees rely on caffeinated drinks during the night shifts to stay refreshed and awake. But, it’s advised to abstain from having coffee after the mid-day shift, as drinking coffee 6 hours before going to bed can severely disturb the circadian rhythm and the sleep cycle.
Leverage Automate Shift Scheduling Software
Manually maintaining a shift schedule for various teams can be hectic and time-consuming. Plus, defining a schedule for a large workforce is prone to errors. Employers can overcome this challenge by leveraging employee scheduling software that assists in planning shifts for different types of schedules such as 2-2-3, and 4/10. Interestingly, employees get notified about their shift timings beforehand so that they can be prepared. Plus, the scheduling software provides a 360-degree view of the resource shift time, bandwidth, and availability.
In short, this software-
- Helps in scheduling shifts in advance
- Notifies the employees about their shift rosters
- Allows the team to switch shifts if required
On top of that, when an employee is ill or on vacation, the software can help employers easily fill in the shift without overburdening any employee.
Install a Napping Room in Offices
Working a long shift of 12 hours straight is too tiring and often causes sleepiness. To mitigate this issue, organizations are nowadays installing a nap pod or having a separate napping room for employees.
These spaces allow employees to take a power nap for 15-20 minutes without any disturbance. Employees can take a short power nap in the middle of the long shifts to recharge themselves and restore their productivity.
Support an Open Door Policy
When a company decides to implement this schedule in their organization, employees may have a hard time adjusting to the long working hours. That’s why it’s recommended for employers and managers to check with their employees if they are feeling too exhausted or can do anything to ease their adaptation to this routine.
Employees working in the rotational shift may face issues, such as insomnia, exhaustion, burnout, etc. It’s imperative to keep a tab on their well-being and have an open-door policy so that employees can reach out to their managers in case of any concern with this schedule.
Should You Use a 2-2-3 Work Schedule?
As mentioned earlier, the 2-2-3 schedule benefits the industries that require 24-hour coverage. So, if your industry type requires round-the-clock services, then this schedule is the right fit for you. Mostly, call centers, manufacturers and emergency services like the fire department or healthcare find this schedule most convenient.
However, this shift requires multiple teams working in different shifts. So, do ensure that you have sufficient staff that can be split into multiple teams and whether they are ready to work in rotational cycles, including both day and night shifts.
So, consider choosing this shift only if you:
- have sufficient resources that can be split into multiple teams
- have staff ready to work in a rotational cycle, including day and night shifts
- require customer-facing staff round the clock
- need 24-hour employee coverage
This schedule can be exhausting for some employees due to the long 12 working hours, so make sure your employees, business partners, and stakeholders are on the same page regarding this schedule implementation.
How to Implement the 2-2-3 Work Schedule
The 2-2-3 schedule requires rotational shift work that’s not easy to track and create. To streamline this process, you can try any efficient scheduling software, such as Workforce Management Solution from Replicon, which help in scheduling shifts for a large workforce. This solution is designed to align people, projects, and time on a unified platform, which results in enhanced productivity and overall profitability.
Leverage 2-2-3 Schedule for 24/7 Business Staffing
Industries seeking a schedule to stay consistently staffed 24/7 find the 2-2-3 work schedule suitable, as it provides three consecutive days off in a week and has fewer work days than other schedules. Employers can go for Panama Plus, DuPont, Pitman, and DDNNOO schedules as well to provide 24-hour coverage to customers.
Regardless of which shift you implement in your organization, make sure to help staff manage this transition and encourage an open line of communication so that employees can share their thoughts, concerns, or challenges without fear of repercussions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.1 Is a 2-2-3 work schedule good?
Ans: A 2-2-3 work schedule is a rotational cycle that works great for businesses that provide services around the clock. Employees working in this schedule get two to three consecutive days off every 7-day cycle, which allows plenty of time to relax and recharge.