Staff Scheduling and Staff Rosters Projects for Businesses
Staff rostering Consultancy Staff rostering projects Training in staff rostering Call centre simulator
changing shift patterns guide

Changing to new Shift Patterns

If your Company is thinking about changing to new Shift patterns. We describe the processes involved to do this. If you have any questions, please call us.

click here to see the Changing Shift Patterns Guide

Welcome to CDT - logo VISUAL ROTA

index page

Tel/+44 1 636 816466

Copyright 2018 CDT All rights reserved

Creating Your First Shift Pattern with Visual Rota

The Basics Behind Efficient Staff Rostering


I am often asked the question, how do I start a brand new staff schedule? It can be daunting to have the task of creating a brand new manning operation, budgeting for it, and presenting it to management. I have prepared this page to illustrate how to start. It isn't hard to do, and the example given is based on an actual request. It took about 5-10 minutes to complete. It will take you longer to read about it, than it would take you to do it!


I created a staff schedule for a call centre manned by 2 shifts Morning(7am-3pm) & Afternoon(1pm-9pm). Both are 8 hour shifts. Staffing 7 days a week. There is a 2 hour overlap in the afternoon when all staff are on duty. This could be a problem with equipment, etc., where we would need 8 desks, 8 phone lines, 8 computers, twice as much room space at a rental of $£XX etc.,
We will have 4 staff on each shift.

Maths Part

Example 1 We need to have some idea of how many staff we need to schedule, so we do some calculations. At this time, we ignore staff holidays, sickness, training and requests.
For 2 shifts/day x 4 staff = 8 shifts/day = 56 shifts/week. 56 shifts/week = 11 staff working 5 shifts & 1 shift left over.

A few more examples of this type of problem are;
Example 2 For 7 day 24 hr cover using 8 hr shifts which have 6 staff on early, 3 on evenings & 2 on nights, we have,
early shift = 6 staff x 7 days = 42 shifts, evening shift = 3 staff x 7 days = 21 shifts, night shift = 2 staff x 7 days = 14 shifts.
Total number of shifts/week = 42 + 21 + 14 = 77 shifts. 77 shifts/week = 15 staff working 5 shifts/week & 2 shifts left over.

Example 3 For 7 day cover, where 6 am Monday-6am Saturday is covered 24hrs/day by 3 x 8 hr shifts, Saturday has 2 x 8 hr shifts 6am-10pm, and Sunday has one shift 9am-5pm. Shifts(earlies, evenings & nights) are variously manned depending on past experience, Monday to Friday Earlies, have 8 staff(=8x5=40 shifts), Monday evening has 4 staff=4 shifts, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday evening have 6 staff=18 shifts, Friday evening has 4 staff=4 shifts, Saturday early has 9 staff=9 shifts, Saturday evening has 4 staff=4 shifts, Sunday has 3 staff=3 shifts. For nights, Monday-Thursday have 3 staff=12 shifts, Friday has 2 staff=2 shifts
A table of this staffing levels would look like this

































The total number of shifts is 96/week which is 96/5 = 19 staff working 5 shifts/week and 1 shift left over.

Variations from one week to the next.

The maths can be extended over longer period if the work is cyclical or periodic. A cyclic period could be monthly, as in producing a monthly magazine. A periodic period could be seasonal, such as heating repairs reaching a max. in Autumn, or fruit and vegetable picking. The shift totals can be calculated whenever you have repeatable periods which can be estimates, or they can be based on last years shift scheduling. But sometimes your best guess just has to do.
Example 4 We use the same shift patterns and staffing levels as example 3 above, but as a policy we decide to have half the staff as part-timers working 3 shifts/week, the reasons for this are numerous, but at the heart of it is the ability for the staff to have more weekends off. So, if half the staff work 5 shifts and half the staff work 3 shifts a week, how many staff is that in all? Let's call it X, and we still have 96 shifts to cover. Therefore, (0.5X x 5) + (0.5X x 3) = 96, and by using a bit of algebra, X = 24 exactly. So we have 12 part time staff.
This time when we put the employees names in, we separate the part timers out. We can call them PT1, PT2, etc., or we leave a few blank lines between the two groups. Then when we start allocating shifts, we do it just the same way, except that for the part timers we start by only giving them 3 shifts at first in each week.

Method Using Example 1 Above

Example 1 a staff schedule for a call centre manned by 2 shifts Morning(7am-3pm) & Afternoon(1pm-9pm). Both are 8 hour shifts. Staffing 7 days a week. There is a 2 hour overlap in the afternoon when all staff are on duty. We will have 4 staff on each shift.

1. Input alecrmation into the alecrmation table for the shifts M & A. The image below shows M = 8hrs, it is a morning & afternoon shift for calculating staff on duty. A = 8hrs, it is an afternoon & evening shift for calculating staff on duty, and it is a late shift.

shifts defined for VR

Shifts Defined for Visual Rota, the input is highlighted in black. We click on the 'update alec table' button.

2. We can now enter 12 staff into Visual Rota. They are just numbers at the moment, names only confuse the scheduling, it is better if everyone is anonymous.
3. We enter shifts starting with PERSON 1 and on day 1(Monday) we enter M, a morning shift.

The animation will continuously cycle through the process of creating the staff roster.

animation showing 2 shift roster

The first shift we enter is a morning shift M, the computer calculates that we have 1 staff on duty in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, and the computer calculates 8 hours for that day and the staff member has worked 1 early shift. As each shift is entered, the program calculates the parameters associated with the shifts.

4. As each staff member will work 5 shifts/week, we can now allocate 5 shifts for the first 11 staff. We concentrate on getting the shift manning levels correct and the number of shifts/person only.

The number of possible shift patterns is virtually limitless, below is another example where staff work 7 continuous shifts. This pattern gives them longer periods off between sets of shifts. To the company, the effect is neutral because the same number of staff are still working the same number of shifts and hours, however to the staff the effect is never neutral.

7 consecutive shifts pattern

It did not matter where or how we start allocating shifts, because we have worked out the maths previously, we simply have to enter shifts.

The above examples are starting points to insert shifts to a pattern quickly. You can start changing shifts between the staff at any time to produce a better pattern. It is worth spending some time examining the roster at this stage, because you can use the eventual shift pattern, over and over again.
Holidays are covered by having extra employees added to the 11 employees working full time. Details of the methods and techniques can be supplied on an individual basis, please email for details.

We can expand the roster for at least the next year and show the staff. They can select their holidays, days off, swap shifts and generally plan their lives around the roster so that you have the minimum amount of changes to do.

Weekends Off

Weekends off are an important part of any roster. As a company you have to recruit staff and you would find this difficult if your competition can offer a better shift pattern. I always take this into consideration to make sure you have a more attractive roster than anyone else. In the example above, there are complete weekends off and half weekends(either Saturday or Sunday) each week. By moving a few shifts around it is possible to change these half weekends into complete weekends off. If you examine how we started this exercise, you will notice that if 8 staff are on duty every day, then only 3 staff can have the day off. If you turn this around, it means that you can have 3 complete weekends off every 11 weeks only if you work the other 8 weekends. Most staff would like alternate weekends off, and we cannot give them that sort of roster, so one solution from many possible variations is to employ part time staff to get around the problem. In example 4 above, if we have half the staff working 3 days/week. With that 50-50 ratio, we would have 14 staff to man our call centre, 7 full time & 7 part time. Now we can have 6 full weekends off every week, which is very close to having every other weekend off.


Holidays and how they affect the roster is an extremely important aspect of Staff Rostering. In fact, most staff roster are centered around the staff holidays in one or another. Holidays should be neutral to the company, but they are never neutral to the staff. This important area covered in our training program.

More alecrmation about Visual Rota

Human Resource Management:Training in Staff Rostering

user guides,help & video

record keeping using VR

calculating holiday entitlements

shifts overlapping pay rates

creating new schedules with VR

shift pattern generator

changing over to VR

hotels and staffing

See your staffing costs as you prepare the schedule

On Oct.1st 1998 the new regulations came into force

Frequently asked questions

Using Visual Rota Statistics to make decisions

Managing Change. How to introduce changes

How to use annual hours in planning schedules

What is Whatif analysis?

How having too many staff can affect quality as well as too few staff

Continually short staffed-fact or myth

How to reduce staff painlessly

please email us

Theory and creating the staffing schedule

Staffing resource consultancy

Tel: (+44) 01636 816466 Tel: (00 44) 1636 816466