3 Crew 12 Hour Shift Schedule and Other Shift Patterns: Which is Right for Your 24/7 Restaurant?

If your restaurant operates for 24 hours, how do you do your employee scheduling? Does a team always work the morning shift and another in the night shift? How do you decide on day-offs?

For restaurants that are open 24/7, scheduling can become a complex and challenging task. Fortunately, rotating shifts and a 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule can come to your rescue.

In rotating shifts that use multiple crew or teams, you can make your employees work different shifts. For example, a team can work the day shift this week, while another team handles the night shift. In the next week, the first team can switch to night shift while the second team covers for the day shift. You can also provide required day-offs in between.

Rotating shifts also give a fair chance to all employees to earn tips and gain experience of serving during busy hours.

In this guide, we will show you how to cover 24 hours operation using a 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule that rotates on weekly basis. We will also explore other rotating shift schedules you can consider, ending with the tips to create the most effective schedule.

3 Crew 12 Hour Shift Schedule: The Basics

You can cover your 24 hours operation with two 12 hour shifts using 3 crew or teams. Each team has to work seven consecutive day shifts, then another seven consecutive night shifts, followed by seven days off-days.

Let’s illustrate the concept with some examples.

Let’s say team 1 starts working on day shifts from Monday to Sunday (days 1 to 7). The next week, they take on the night shift (days 8 to 14). The following week, team 1 gets seven days off (days 15 to 21).

Your team 2 takes the first seven days off while team 1 works the day shift. The next week, they start working during the day shift (days 8 to 14). The night shift is covered by team 2. In the third week, they take up the night shift (days 15 to 21) while team 1 enjoys its time-off.

Team 3 works the night shift for seven days while team 1 covers the day shift and team 2 is on break. The next week (days 8 to 14), team 3 takes seven days off. During these days, the day shift and night shift is covered by team 2 and team 1 respectively. During days 15 to 21 (third week), team 3 works the day shift while team 1 has its day-offs. The night shift is covered by team 2 in this week.

All teams work for 12 hours whether it’s the night shift or day shift.

Here’s how it may look on a simple 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule

TeamDays 1 to 7Days 8 to 15Days 15 to 21
Team 1Works day shiftWorks night shiftTime off
Team 2Time offWorks day shiftWorks night shift
Team 3Works night shiftTime offWorks day shift

Things to note:

  • The above table shows working and off-days in a single repeat cycle. You can also create your own cycle.
  • The entire sequence will again start over once a cycle reaches its end.
  • You can assign your own shift start and end times to meet the needs of your operation.
  • The 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule is applicable for 24/7 restaurants and eateries.
  • The scheduling switches between 12 hour day and night shifts. The shifts are rotated each week.
  • The schedule has a repeat cycle of 21 days. Then it begins over once again.

Advantages of 3 Crew 12 Hour Shift Schedules

  • Teams get 7 consecutive day-offs every 3 weeks.
  • You need only 3 teams to cover 24 hours.

Disadvantages of 3 Crew 12 Hour Shift Schedules

  • Employees may not like working for 12 hours for fourteen straight days.
  • Teams have to work night shifts for seven consecutive days.
  • Employees may find the transition from day to night shift (and vice versa) challenging.

So, do you think your 24/7 restaurant will benefit from a 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule? If you are still unsure and need more options, we have got you covered! Here are a few more rotating shift patterns you may consider.

Types of 3 Crew 12 Hour Shift Schedules

1. The DuPont Scheduling Method

This method was a product of the company DuPont and became popular in the 1950s. Here you will need to use 4 crews who work 12 hour shifts every 24 hours. The DuPont scheduling method uses the following cycle-

  • 4 days work
  • 3 days break
  • 3 days work
  • 1 day off
  • 3 days work
  • 3 days off
  • 4 days work
  • 7 days break

Your employees may need to work overtime as the average working hours per week comes to 42.

Benefits

  • Employees enjoy the 7 days mini-vacation in every 28 day cycle

Drawbacks

  • 24 hours may not be adequate to eradicate the fatigue of working two 3 day consecutive work shifts

2. Pitman Scheduling

The Pitman schedule also relies on 4 teams that work two 12 hour shifts. Here is the pattern you can follow over the course of 4 weeks (‘D’ refers to day shifts, ‘N’ refers to night shifts, and ‘O’ refers to days off)-

  • Team 1- OONNOOO-DDOODDD
  • Team 2: OODDOOO-NNOONNN
  • Team 3: NNOONNN-OONNOOO
  • Team 4: DDOODDD-OODDOOO

You can also rotate the shifts in the next cycle or change the working format of the teams. For example, team 2 works DDOODDD-OODDOOO, while team 4 changes to OONNOOO-DDOODDD.

Benefits

  • You have more flexibility in scheduling
  • Employees get adequate time-offs

Drawbacks

  • Some employees may need to work overtime

3. The 2 – 3 – 2 Schedule

The 2 – 3 – 2 schedule became popular around the 1980s though it was introduced during the 1960s. The schedule is also called ‘EOWEO,’ meaning ‘every other weekend off.’ The 2 – 3 – 2 schedule follow a 14 day pattern of-

  • 2 days work
  • 2 days off
  • 3 days work
  • 2 days off
  • 2 days work
  • 3 days off

Benefits

  • Employees are happy that they don’t have to attend more than 3 night shifts in a row
  • Employees get 3 days weekend off every other weekend

Drawbacks

  • Employees only get 3 days off consecutively
  • Workers may find it difficult to adjust if you rotate night and day shifts quickly

4. 4 On, 4 Off Schedule

This schedule is really simple- your employees attend four consecutive night or day shifts and then has 4 days off. You can switch the cycle every 8 days or even make it 24 days.

Benefits

  • Offers enough break time to employees to recover from fatigue
  • Employees can get three consecutive weekends off if you follow the 8 week cycle

Drawbacks

  • Employees need to work at least one day per weekend for five weeks if you follow the 8 week cycle
  • The off day advances by one day each week when you follow the 8-day pattern

5. 24 – 48 Schedule

The 24 – 48 schedule needs 3 teams to work 24 hour shifts. Each three day cycle pattern offers-

  • 24 hours duty
  • 48 hours break

So if team 1 starts working on Monday, they get Tuesday and Wednesday off. Team 2 attends work on Tuesday and gets rest on Wednesday and Thursday. Team 3 attends the Wednesday shift and takes break on Thursday and Friday.

Benefits

  • Provides enough break for staff to return to work fresh

Drawbacks

  • 24 hour shifts may be too long for some employees

You can tweak or change the schedule pattern to suit the needs of your establishment. Some other forms of schedule used in North America instead of 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule include-

  • 3 – 3 schedule: Mostly popular in Canada, the schedule depends on 3 days work and 3 days off.
  • 3 – 4 schedule: 3 to 4 days work with 3 to 4 days off (can be applied to day and night shifts).
  • 4 – 5 / 5 – 4 / 5 – 5 schedules: 4 days work with 5 days off, 5 days work with 4 days off and 5 days work with 5 days off.

You can also try numerous variations of the DuPont schedule.

Now, we are going to tell you how you can choose the best schedule for your organization.

How to Choose the Right Shift Schedule for Your Restaurant

Whether it’s the 3 crew 12 hour shift schedule, DuPont or Pitman, you need to zero in on the shift factors that align with your operations. Only then you will be able to pick the right shift schedule. Here are a few things to consider-

1. Consider Your 24 Hour Shift Requirements

You will need your sales data to identify the best shift schedule. Also, things like hours of coverage, employees needed per hour and their skills will also impact your choice. Track your sales to create optimum shifts with adequate staff and skills.

For example, if you know weekends bring more footfall, then keep a few extra hands to help out during those busy hours.

2. Match Your Number of Workers

Some shift patterns are more geared for restaurants with a large number of employees. So make sure the pattern you choose matches the size of your labor pool and operations. 

3. Plan Working Hours

Do due research to ensure you choose the right shift lengths or working hours. Remember that longer shifts generally means giving your employees more days off in a row. Also, decide whether you need to overlap some shifts to use the extra help.

4. Consider Nature of Shifts

Typically, 24/7 restaurants do well with rotating shifts. But this may not be true for all establishments. So take your time to decide whether you want fixed or rotating shifts for your employees.

5. Evaluate Needs for Days Off

Evaluate the needs of your employees when deciding on off days. You should at least provide a weekend or a day on a weekend off so that your employees can spend time with their families.

Final Thoughts: Take a Cue from Your Employees

Last but not least, involve your employees in the scheduling process. Studies show that you can create a far more effective schedule when you let your employees participate. You can also reduce last-minute changes and absenteeism or turnover by consulting your employees before you finalize the schedule. So strike the right balance and develop your shift pattern accordingly.