Split vs continuous shift← Back to blog
When summertime arrives, many companies offer their workers the possibility to opt for a condensed work day. It usually follows a pattern: it starts at 8 AM and ends at 4PM in the afternoon.
This can be of much help for, for instance, those who need to pick up their offsprings at school, but aside from those specific needs, the debate is taking place: Which one should we establish in most cases? Oor, from the business standpoint, which one is more productive?
- Let's tart with the defense of the split shift:
- It is based in the fact that productivity decreases when the hours a person is working increase (Alert: Not in the workplace). The explanation is simple: We get tired. And when we get tired, we perform poorly. It makes sense, doesn't it? That's why most kor journeys offer a generous break at lunchtime. This way, when you get back to the desk, you feel fresh again to work a couple more hours at maximum.
- Let's draw a comparison: put some footballers to play 90 minutes non-stop and around minute 80 you'll see how they suffer from cramps. With a 15 minute-rest just at half the hour and half of gametime, their legs can resist well and the footballers will only give out when the time is extended.
- But reality is actually more complicated. Because workers don't function like footballers do, and their behaviour and performance patterns, that is to say: productivity, don't work that scientifically.
- So let's see what the other part has to say:
- Most people who back the continuous shift criticize the split work day because, they reason, extending the hours we stay at the office only produces weariness. Furthermore, they believe that in the afternoon, in the end, we work halfheartedly. This means that it isn't really useful to extend the shift, because we are less productive, and not only that, we cost more money to the company. How? For example, they will need to pay for more hours of electricity.
- On the other hand, supporters of the continuous shift think this formula offers multiple benefits for the worker. For instance, according to the Association for the Rationalization of the Spanish Schedules (ARHOE, by its initials in spanish), the continuous journey allows to increase motivation, strengthen identification with the company project, reduce stress and enhance rest.
Well, the theory behind the better productivity in a continuous shift afirms that every worker needs a certain time to activete himself -or herself- in the morning. It is no secret that many people spend their first minutes in the office checking mail, reading the newspapers, chatting by the vending machine or simply staring holes in the air.
We need time to charge our batteries and get ready. That's why splitting the journey for as long as is usually done means we disconnect at lunchtime. And if we disconnect, we need to reconnect whenever we get back to the desk. Again the chatting, the shallow talk, the minesweeper, a quick look at Facebook... In the end, productive nonsense.
Nowadays, supporters of the continuous shift seem not to stop growing, but both arguments make perfect sense. Then, who is in the right and who is in the wrong?
· To start, every worker is different.
· There are diurnal people; those who arrive and start producing almost instantly.
And then there exist nocturnal people; maybe those who need to take a giant loop to stretch before they actually start working.
· The ideal would be to ease adapting the work schedule to everyone's needs. That is only achieved at summer time, and, in general, thinking that every self can regulate his own ideal schedule is a bit far-fetched. Companies need to develope routines.
What's the solution, then?
We'll maybe deceit some of you readers, but as is usually said, extremes touch themselves, and so the answer fells probably in a healthy midpoint.
The main problem of split shifts is that they extend the hours at work, and a too generous break at lunchtime is to blame. The solution, then, is to reduce this time and that from an hypothetical coffee break in the morning. With something in the range of 30 to 60 minutes at lunchtime should be enough. This time allows the worker to go down to get served a dish or two at the nearest restaurant, and it is reasonable to think that 60 minutes is yet not enough to provoke a mental disconnection that could difficult returning to the work routine.
This option, pretty usual in many european countries, fells halfway between the continuous and the split work journeys. Furthermore, presents a work schedule that could, for instance, run between 8 AM and 4.30 PM. And the fact of agreeing on an earlier single break would, in the case of Spain, helping evening our eating schedules to those of the rest of the continent, which is usually having lunch and dinner way earlier than us.