Shift or days? A guide to getting your head around different working hours

Working hours

‘Working 9-5, what a way to make a living’. I never thought we’d be quoting Dolly Parton in one of our blogs, but here we are.

Although some companies might offer a slightly different start and end to the  day, many of us still follow conventional working hours similar to those memorably sung my Dolly.

Yet like many aspects of modern working life, we are increasingly diverging from tradition.

The recent rise of co-working and flexible working locations, for example, has made it easier to work across different sites in a city, or to work from home one week and then work in an office the next.

No longer is the ‘9-5’ at the same workplace the only way to work.

At Alex Young Recruitment, while many of the roles we recruit for involve similar duties and responsibilities, several of them operate different working patterns.

This can often be quite confusing. Many of us have tended to work in one style, so are unfamiliar with the different working hours if we encounter them.

Below we discuss the pros and cons of different patterns you might come across when applying for a new role.


Traditional working hours, Monday – Friday

Most positions we work on still operate on a Monday to Friday basis. The hours might be slightly different to those sung by Dolly  but the principle remains the same.

Although you might have a call-out rota or potential for overtime, once you finish on Friday afternoon that’s generally it for the week.

And as most schools, training courses and other work places operate in a similar structure, it can often make arranging plans out of work hours a bit easier.

But of course, it does mean you risk travelling at the busiest times of the day, and anyone who has been squashed standing next to someone in a busy train carriage or spent hours stuck on the motorway, will have thought ‘I wish I finished at a different time’.

different working hoursShift working hours

The most common alternative to working a day position in the facilities management industry is working shift. Shift working hours can often be quite confusing.

Whereas with a day position you follow the same layout every time you go to work, when working shift, that routine can change from day to day and week to week.

Shift roles often have higher starting salaries than weekday positions. This could be due to the length of shift you work, how often you work and when you work.

Many engineers enjoy shift as it gives them extended periods of not working.

Yet we always stress that it is worth taking time to consider if the financial benefit is worth the potential impact upon your personal life. Shift patterns can can clash with precious family time and other commitments.

Yet it can work the other way, giving you time off during the week when most other people are at work. It can also be beneficial in managing childcare if you have  pre-school age children.

How shift pattern operates can vary wildly across different companies. For example, a candidate I recently spoke to had a very unconventional pattern of working eight days in a row, then getting two days off.

This  was repeated until he worked 16 days, where he then got eight days off.

Although this type of shift pattern is rare, it highlights what you could be signing up for with some facilities management companies.

Below I describe the most common shift patterns that occur when applying for facilities management jobs:

Four on, four off 

One of the more common shifts patterns involves working four days, then getting four days off (or a similar variation of this).

Generally, these subscribe to a 12-hour pattern, such as 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Many engineers enjoy this, as it allows them to have a solid period of the week off, whilst also allowing them to avoid travelling at rush hour times.

On the other hand, it does mean that there will be periods when you are consistently working weekends in a row.

Continental Shift Working Hours

Although not hugely common, continental shifts are used by many facilities’ management service providers. This usually involves working early, late and night shifts, for two to three days in a row, so the site is constantly under supervision.

Some overseas engineers exclusively want to work in these positions, as this is what they were used to before working in the United Kingdom.

Yet this type of shift pattern can be off putting to others. Although you get a rota, these are ever changing in terms of what days and hours you work. You might work an early shift one Tuesday, but a late the next.

This can obviously impact any weekly commitments or responsibilities you have outside of work,

Make sure to do your research into how this might impact your personal life before rushing to accept an offer for a continental shift.

Split shifts

Split shifts are perhaps the closest equivalent to working a traditional working week, within a shift element. One week you start and finish at a certain time, for example 7:00am – 4:00pm, but then on the second week you work 10:00 am – 7:00pm, which then repeats on rota basis.

Split shifts can have real benefits for the right people. Firstly, they generally involve only working Monday to Friday, which still leaves your weekends free.

Furthermore, the shift hours usually mean you avoid travelling at rush hour times.

working different hoursNight shifts

Admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea, working nights can have a lot of benefits. Perhaps most crucially of all is that these roles generally pay significantly more due to the inconvenience they can create.

However night shifts can often free up social time, whether you want to spend more time with the children or head to the gym during less busy hours.

Additionally, most sites are likely to be empty during the night, minimising interference to both you and the tenant.


If you are self employed temporary work is a great way to boost your income during quieter periods.

We are often asked to provide temporary cover because a company has an absence due to holiday or sickness, or a pressing project or major maintenance issue.

To find out  more about the types of project work and temporary opportunities we have within the facilities management industry, take a look at our minor projects works page.

So, apologies for getting Dolly Parton stuck in your head for the rest of the day (it was not my main intention), but hopefully you now have a clear idea of the different working patterns you might encounter when applying for a new facilities management job.

To find out about the full range of jobs we have available please contact a member of the team.