20 Examples of Alternative Work Schedules

Updated March 16, 2023

Having an alternative work schedule can provide flexibility from the standard workweek. Both employees and employers may require different types of work schedules, and the type of schedule a company offers can be a deciding factor when applying for a job. Knowing about various options allows you to understand what employers are looking for when they list their type of work schedule in a job description.

In this article, we list 20 examples of alternative work schedules.

Why alternative work schedules can be beneficial

An alternative work schedule can be beneficial for those who need flexibility from a standard schedule. There are benefits to each type of work schedule, and understanding the types of alternative work schedules can help you understand what a company is looking for when applying for a job. Your work schedule affects your life schedule, and it is beneficial to find a job with a work schedule that gives you more freedom to manage your life how you want.

Types of alternative work schedules

Here are 20 types of work schedules you can have:

1. Standard

The standard work schedule is when you are required to work during standard business hours. An example of a standard work schedule would be a company requiring you to work five days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The start and end times may differ, but a standard schedule will always require work during the company's hours of operation.

Example: A company's business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you work those business hours with a one-hour lunch break.

2. Fixed full-time

A fixed full-time schedule is similar to a standard work schedule but applies to companies that have more than nine hours of operation each day. In a fixed full-time schedule, you might be required to work from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. while a coworker is required to work from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Both employees work fixed full-time schedules at different times.

Example: A company's business hours are 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and you work a fixed full-time schedule from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

3. Fixed part-time

A fixed part-time schedule is the same as a fixed full-time schedule, except you work less than eight hours a day and less than 40 hours a week. Your schedule remains the same each day and week. You might work from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at a part-time job.

Example: A company's business hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you work a part-time schedule from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Related: How Many Hours Per Week is Part-Time?

4. Job share

Job sharing is when two employees work part-time schedules to fulfill a full-time schedule of a standard employee. While some employees work a full-time schedule, a job share schedule would be split between two employees where each employee works half of the full-time schedule.

Example: Full-time employees work a schedule from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and two employees work a job share schedule where one works from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the other works from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

5. Unpredictable

An unpredictable schedule is any work schedule that changes every day or week. You might work four hours one day and eight hours the next. You might work five days one week and two days the next.

Example: You work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. one week, and your employer changes your schedule to 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. the next week. Halfway through the second week, your schedule changes again to 5 a.m. to 1 p.m.

6. Flextime

A flextime schedule requires an employee to work part of their hours during a specific time while allowing the employee to choose the rest of their hours. You might be required to work from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and be able to select your other five hours between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Example: Your required hours are 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. One day you decide to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to have dinner with your family, and the next day you choose to work from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. because you have a dentist's appointment in the morning.

Related: Becoming a Manager: How to Develop a Work Schedule

7. Compressed workweek

A compressed workweek schedule allows employees to work full-time hours in a less amount of days. Instead of working full-time for six days a week at seven hours a day, you might work four days a week at 10 hours a day.

Example: You work a full-time schedule of 40 hours by working Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. with one-hour lunches.

8. Compressed workday

A compressed workday schedule is when you work fewer hours in a day. It is similar to a part-time schedule but in a way where most or all employees in a company work the same compressed schedule.

Example: You and all your coworkers work from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. to complete all of the required tasks each day.

9. Shift work

Shift work is any schedule that is part of a consistent change of shifts. Companies that operate more than 10 hours each day commonly use shifts, and every business that operates 24 hours a day uses shifts. Companies can have two or more shifts on any given day.

Example: At a 24-hour establishment, one employee works from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., another employee works from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., and you work from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Each employee has a one-hour break and overlaps one hour into the next employee's shift.

Read more: Shift Work: Definition, Jobs, Pros and Cons

10. Rotating shift

Rotating shifts can be daily or weekly rotations, and are set up so that employees work different shifts each day or week as the hours rotate among employees. Every rotating shift employee will work the same rotation at varying times.

Example: You work 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. the first week, 10 p.m. to 7 p.m. the second week, and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. the third week.

11. Split shift

A split shift schedule is when an employee works two shortened shifts during a day with an elongated break in between. An employee might work from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and take a break until their next shift from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Example: As a food delivery driver, you work a three-hour lunch shift from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a five-hour dinner shift from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

12. On-call

An on-call schedule is when an employee is required to be available to work at any time during hours of operation on a specific day. You might work on-call on one day of the week that will require you to work for as many hours as you are needed.

Example: You are on an on-call shift from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and your employer calls at 1 p.m. to say you are required to work from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. that day.

13. Overtime

Overtime schedules require employees to work longer than the standard 40 hours per week or eight hours per day. You might work 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week. Overtime hours commonly come with increased pay depending on the employer.

Example: You and your friend both work overtime schedules. Your friend works three days a week for 12 hours each day while you work seven days a week for seven hours each day. Your friend takes advantage of daily overtime, while you take advantage of weekly overtime.

14. No schedule

An employer with a no-schedule policy allows employees to work as long as they need to complete their tasks. An employee's day will end if they finish their tasks in four hours instead of eight. No-schedule policies are commonly found in jobs that have undetermined amounts of work each day.

Example: You unload trucks at a warehouse in the morning with a start time of 4 a.m. Each day requires a different number of hours based on how much inventory each truck holds. One day you work from 4 to 7 a.m., while another day you work from 4 a.m. to 12 p.m.

15. Results-only work environment

In a results-only work environment, employees can work as little as they want if they produce the expected results. ROWE schedules are commonly found in salary positions that reward productivity more than time spent.

Example: You are paid a yearly salary in bi-monthly installments and can work for two hours a day three days per week, or eight hours a day seven days per week, as long as you are meeting the quota or requirements of your employer.

16. Freelance

A freelance schedule is chosen entirely by the freelancer or contract worker. As long as the work is completed by the deadline, the freelancer can work whenever they want for as long as they desire.

Example: You are contracted on Oct. 15 to create 30 designs for an advertising campaign by Nov. 15. You choose your workdays and hours and submit your final designs before the Nov. 15 deadline.

17. Seasonal

A seasonal schedule is any work schedule that is limited to a particular season or time of the year. Some companies that are open all year will utilize seasonal schedules for additional employees needed in busy times of the year. Other companies that are only open for a limited amount of time each year utilize seasonal employees only.

Example: A grocery store expects more customers in November and December, so you work a full-time or part-time shift in those months to compensate for the increase in customers. Alternatively, you work as a Christmas light installer during a company's entire work year, which happens only between November to January each year.

Related: Seasonal Associate Resume Samples

18. Remote work

A remote work schedule is any schedule that an employee works away from the place of business. Some companies might allow employees to work remotely by choice, while other companies require employees to work remotely full-time.

Example: You are part of a company's phone support staff and work entirely from home to complete your daily job responsibilities.

Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well

19. Telecommuting

A telecommuting schedule allows employees the freedom to work remotely some or most of the time but requires the employee to work at the place of business for a determined amount of time each week or month. As a telecommuting employee, you might complete most of your tasks at home and come to the office for a client or team meeting.

Example: You work from home to make calls to prospective clients and use your company conference room for client meetings.

20. Customized

A customized schedule allows the employee to choose their schedule. Employees might be allowed to choose their schedule entirely, or they might have to meet requirements such as working a minimum amount of hours or working on specific days.

Example: A company has many contracted employees that can choose to work whenever hours are available. The company expects you to work seven hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., so you decide to work from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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