When looking for new job opportunities, shift work may not be your first consideration. But do you really know what shift work is and how it may actually benefit you? Here we aim to help you in your job search by giving you an overview of the different shift patterns you might encounter in driving and warehouse jobs. Plus, we’ll tell you 7 reasons why working shifts can be an advantage.
What is shift work?
In 2020, it was estimated that close to 14% of the UK population did some sort of shift work1. Shift work is generally understood to be any working pattern outside of the usual 9 to 5, Monday to Friday work week. Shift work is common in a variety of different professions. For some it is essential, such as in healthcare or emergency services where staff are needed 24 hours a day. In restaurant and retail work employers operate shifts so they can open early and close late.
For driving and warehouse jobs, shift patterns mean the business can stay operational over more hours, even 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if necessary. By offering a range of different shifts, businesses can remain staffed without individuals working long hours. With sufficient rest periods between shifts, employees begin each shift refreshed, which increases both morale and productivity.
Working shifts can also have its benefits for employees. Perhaps you are a student with classes to attend in the daytime; maybe you have young children and need to juggle your work schedule to fit with childcare. It is possible that you can find a shift in a warehouse or driving job that will fit around your daytime commitments.
What type of warehouse and driving job opportunities are there?
Warehouses are giant storerooms for a wide variety of industries. You could be working in retail or manufacturing, in the food industry, the motor industry, home furnishings or healthcare. Whilst the industry and the types of products you work with can vary widely, the general duties of the role will be similar.
Warehouse work can involve unloading and checking of stock, sorting and placing items onto shelves, picking and packing stock for dispatch, inventory control and data entry. In a busy warehouse this work needs to be done efficiently and consistently, so Warehouse Operatives need to be self-motivated and well organised. Find out more about what Warehouse Operatives do here.
When you look at listings for warehouse jobs you will find that many offer a variety of shifts which can include weekends, early mornings, evenings and nights. This gives you more flexibility in finding a role that fits with your other responsibilities.
Search our latest warehouse jobs here.
If you are interested in driving jobs, there are some roles that don’t require you to have a specialist qualification as most Delivery Driver roles only need you to have a full UK car driving licence. For Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) driving jobs, also known as Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV), you need to have the appropriate training and LGV licence.
Driving jobs can be within your local area or they can be long haul, which can affect the hours you work. Van driving jobs are usually daytime shifts, which can have early starts and may involve weekend work, but you can often find flexible shift patterns. LGV driving jobs can vary; some may be daytime shifts, Monday to Friday, some may include weekend work and require nights away.
Search our latest driving jobs here.
Shift patterns in warehouse and driving work
Thoughts of a different workday, irregular hours and working nights and weekends might fill you with uncertainty, but there are numerous different shift patterns in the warehousing and driving industries, so you could find one that suits you better than a 9 to 5 job.
Types of shift patterns will vary depending on what works best for each employer, but warehouses often operate either a rotational shift pattern or fixed shifts. On a fixed shift you have the same morning, afternoon or night shift each week, on a rotational shift you work a different shift each week. A night shift is any shift with at least three hours during the period from 11pm to 6am and night workers cannot work more than an average of 8 hours in a 24 hour period. You might also find a job with the 2 shift work pattern, where you work an early shift one week and a late shift the next.
Warehouse jobs often involve weekend work, which may be part of your rotational shift. It can be possible to find jobs that are just for weekends if that fits your schedule, especially when it comes to seasonal warehouse work.
For more details on these and other shift patterns read Shift Patterns Explained.
Van driving jobs generally operate on a fixed shift or 2 shift pattern, with hours between 6am and 6pm. This may or may not include weekend work within the rotation. You can sometimes find driving jobs that are specifically for weekend shifts only.
LGV Drivers must abide by specific rules when it comes to shift patterns and driving hours. You can drive for 9 hours a day with a 45 minute break for every 4.5 hours of driving. In one week (7 days) you can drive for up to 56 hours, but you cannot go over 90 hours in a two-week period. This is explained in our handy Driver Hours infographic.
Working shifts can affect your home life, so make sure that the type of shift pattern you are expected to work can fit around your personal commitments. You also need to ensure you are physically and mentally prepared to work different shifts. Working rotational shift patterns, especially if they involve nights, can affect your sleep routine and some people may find it difficult to adjust. So, make sure you understand what the job involves when it comes to shift patterns and decide what will work best for you.
7 advantages of shift work
With the busy lifestyles we all generally lead, shift work can be more practical for some people. Below are some of the advantages:
- Flexible choice of hours and shifts that you can fit around other commitments.
- Varied work which can differ each week, depending on which shift you are working.
- Family friendly. Read 'Can driving jobs be family friendly?' to find out more about this.
- Enables you to create a better work life balance.
- Quicker commute times when you work early or late shifts.
- Quieter work periods when you work early or late.
- You may receive increased pay rates for night shifts and weekend work.
- Office for National Statistics.2021.Shift workers in the public sector.[Online].[November 2021].Available from: https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/adhocs/13069shiftworkersinthepublicsector