Each organization operates differently. Even businesses that are in the same market, that offer the same services, or manufacture the same type of products, can have different practices and processes. It is therefore essential to understand the specifics of an operation in order to align schedules to business needs.
For example, the schedule for nurses in the Emergency Room (ER) will be very different from the schedule for nurses in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), even in the same hospital. In fact, the ER establishes their schedule according to an average patient count every hour of the day and day of the week. This results in shifts that are offset from each other and have different durations so as to cover incoming flow. For example, shifts start at 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., etc. On the other hand, the ICU has a schedule that depends on the number of open beds and has fixed schedules with 8- or 12-hour shifts. Day, Evening, and Night shifts start at the same time day after day.
Alternatively, organizations may use or adapt practices that were established in other industries.
For example, an automobile manufacturer and an air traffic-control agency can share the concept of task rotation-based schedules. According to safety regulations in many countries, an air traffic controller must change airspace a specific number of times during the same workday. This helps the controller to stay alert throughout a shift. One automobile manufacturer implemented a similar practice on a long assembly line, to vary and distribute assembly tasks fairly. The result was to reduce injuries that were due to repetitive tasks.
These and many more examples clearly show that a work schedule can rapidly become complex for an organization. Training the employees who are in charge of schedule planning is the key to keep them and your business ahead of the competitive curve.
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