What is the 2-2-3 Work Schedule and How does it work?

What is the 2-2-3 Work Schedule and How does it work?
2-2-3 Work Schedule 

The working environment is diverse in the world. Some workplace requires 24/7 coverage for operating. Such a scenario is observed in security, health care, retail shops, law enforcement, military, fire service, transportation, restaurants, Airlines, Manufacturing industries, Petrol stations, Customer service call centers, media, and newspapers. For a single employee, it is impossible to cover around the clock.

That is why shift working has emerged. Within shift work, The Panama 2-2-3 work schedule is one of the best. Organizing shifts for the employee is a must for every organization because it will balance employees' personal and working lives.

What is the 2-2-3 work schedule?

A 2-2-3 work schedule is a type of rotating shift that provides 24-hour coverage by having four teams of workers. Each team puts in two back-to-back day shifts and then takes two days off before putting in three more work days.

It generally consists of a 28-day rotational cycle with 12-hour shifts for each employee. The second week starts with two rest days, followed by two workdays and three rest days. The entire process will then be repeated at the very beginning of the month's third week.

Detailed overview of the Panama 2-2-3 work schedule

The 2-2-3 work schedule (sometimes called the Panama schedule) offers you 3 days of the weekend every alternating week and you don't need to work more than 2 days at stress.

Let’s discuss shift work and different types of shift work below:

What is Shift Work?

It is considered that the first movement for “ labor working hours” was in 1835. Workers organized themselves in Philadelphia, led by Irish coal heavers. Labor movement publications called for 8 hours per day of work in 1836. But as globalization, industrialization, and technology boom take place, the demand for working hours is gradually changing with the pace of time.

Nowadays, most companies need 24 hours working environment and manpower. So to mitigate the needs of the companies, shift work has been introduced.

A girl is typing on the keyboard, while day and night cycles goes on

What is Shift Scheduling

Shift scheduling is an integral part of shift work. It is done for the smooth process of shift work. Effective scheduling enables firms to minimize labor expenses, increase efficiency, and develop high morale among employees.

Dividing shifts into several periods can be more challenging and dynamic. Some companies adopt fixed shift schedules, while others opt for rotating shift schedules.

Fixed Shift

When an employee works the same shift every day, we refer to this as a fixed shift. The fixed shift can be of first/second/third shift where employees do not need to work round the clock, but it is necessary to perform their work at the same time every day.

Say, for example, a company needs 24-hour employee engagement. And the employees of the company don't like to change their work schedule. In that case, fixed scheduling can be a good choice for the company.

Advantages of Fixed Shift

  • Communication and coordination are well organized.
  • Employees can maintain a fixed routine
  • Operational cost is significantly less
  • Fixed weekend enables employees to plan beforehand.

Drawbacks of Fixed Shift

  • Rigid scheduling causes dissatisfaction among employees
  • Most fixed time has a rush hour, and it is suppressing travel
  • Most working time is spent in a non-productive way

Rotating Shift

Shift rotation means working in any of the shifts, i.e., first/second/third whenever the employee is said to. An employee can work the morning shift the first day, and on the following day, he/she can perform the night shift. Rotation patterns vary from manager to manager. A manager is a person who determines the employee's rotation schedule.

Is Rotating Shift Necessary Evil?

Employees working on rotating shift schedule has more fatigue, increased stress level, sleeping disorders, and sometimes difficulties in eating. While day shift workers have a sound sleep at night, on the other hand, night shift workers won't have a sound sleep on the following day.

Companies can not compromise their productivity. Instead, they can go for rotating shifts to get a similar taste of even or odd shifts. Check out the 9/80 work schedule where you can get one-day extra leave every two weeks.

What is the Panama 2-2-3 Work Schedule?

This is commonly known as “Panama Scheduling.” It is a kind of slow-shift business scheduling that operates on 4 shifts and two 12-hour shifts to provide 24/7 service.

The first 12 hours is the day shift, and the second one is the night shift. The following timetable is used to keep track of working and non-working days.

Advantages of 2-2-3 work schedule

  • Employees can have weekends for 3 days in every alternating week.
  • Useful for training, military, healthcare, and other administrative work.
  • Employees will have only 180 days of work in a year.
  • Only 2 days of working consequently.

Drawbacks of 2-2-3 work schedule

  • Employees will have 12 12-hour continuous working schedules and monotonous feelings.
  • Continuous work for 2 days for a total of 24 hours can hamper an employee's health.
  • The sleeping cycle may be affected.

Variations of 2-2-3 work schedule

Organizational goals and objectives largely depend upon the productivity of employees. Shift scheduling has a significant role in the level of employee productivity. The employee nature and organizational culture factors determine the proper scheduling for the employees.

Let us discuss some of the 2-2-3 Schedule variations with their pros and cons.

Dupont Shift Schedule

Four teams perform 12-hour shifts on the DuPont Shift schedule. The DuPont schedule follows a 4-week cycle: 4-night shifts, 3 days off, 3-day shifts, one day off, 3-night shifts, 3 days off, 4-day shifts, 7 days off. An employee works an average of 42 hours per week.

Most experts say that this Dupont Shift Plan works effectively for industrial companies or may be applied in policy agencies. It is less recommended for small-sized companies.

Pitman Shift Scheduling

The Pitman Shift Pattern is a frequently used pattern that offers coverage 24 hours a day. Pitman's shift schedule utilizes four teams and two 12-hour shifts to offer coverage 24/7.

It works with 2-night shifts followed by a two-day break, 3-night shifts followed by a two-day break, and 2-night shifts followed by a three-day break. Employees get every other weekend off under this shift work schedule.

The 24-48 Scheduling

This is a very simple scheduling process to cover a 24/7 working environment. This pattern is made with three teams. It has a total of three 24-hour shift durations. In the 24-48 schedule each team works for 24 hours and gets rest for the next 48 hours. By this, every employee works an average of 56 hours per week.

This is also known as the ABC shift pattern. If the distance of the workplace from home is very then this 24-48 scheduling is very beneficial for any employee.

Continental Scheduling

Continental shifts are a fast-paced rotating shift pattern that utilizes 4 teams. It has three 8-hour shifts to cover 24 hours a day. Each team rotates between 2, 2, and 3 consecutive day shifts, swing shifts, night shifts, and 2 or 3 days off throughout this schedule. A typical team schedule for a repeat cycle of 4 weeks (28 days).

Continental shift is ideal for healthcare, transportation, security, social care, and senior care. Employees will work short shifts and have at least two consecutive days off to relax and recharge. This is also known as 4-on-4-off scheduling.

10 Ways to Manage A 2-2-3 Work Schedule

You should ensure that your 2-2-3 working shifts operate well without putting an undue strain on your employees' schedules. Yes, and obviously, there will be complications and challenges to managing a 2-2-3 work schedule. Let us delve into the best ways to manage Panama Scheduling.

Providing advance notice of shift rosters

Emergencies are part of the business. To maintain proper Scheduling, there is no alternative to contingency plans. But employee uptake is necessary for this.

Every schedule should be disseminated prior to the actual time so that employees can make preparations according to this. Managers should consult with employees on roster adjustments. In such instances, soliciting feedback from employees and considering their perspectives on schedule changes is equally significant.

Using software for Scheduling and Time Management

If you have a large group of employees or team members, then manually preparing a schedule is a tough job for you. No worries!!! There is software to do the hard work for you.

Calendly, Zoom Shift, Google Calendar, Sling, Worktime, and many more can be good tools for scheduling the workplace. Employees working 12- or 24-hour shifts frequently find ways to pass the time somehow.

Apploye Desktop App

For efficient time management and tracking employee productivity, Apploye Time Tracker is the best choice because of its friendly UI, pricing, and availability. This time-tracking tool will let you track work hours effortlessly.

Allocate a healthy sleep time

The amount of sleep needed for an adult person is about 7-9 hours. It is considered that Nighttime sleep is the best sound sleep. But for Panama scheduling, an employee has to work for continuous 12 hours at night or in the daytime. Maintaining a healthy sleeping time is important for employee efficiency and satisfaction.

Proper light facilities

An office workplace with proper light facilities has a direct impact on your employees' mood, productivity, and energy level. The appropriate lighting for the workspace enables your staff to remain attentive, creative, enthusiastic, and mentally prepared to offer their maximum.

Sometimes too dim lighting causes tiredness, while too bright light creates eye problems as well as migraine issues. However, balancing all these and providing proper light facilities is much more important for better productivity.

Practice flexibility

It is discovered that while analyzing job offers in the United States, people increasingly favor flexibility. Indeed, a poll conducted by Flexjobs in 2020 discovered that 79% of respondents would be more loyal to their company if they had the choice of flexible employment.

Flexibility to change the schedule enables employees to balance work and personal life. The mental satisfaction of employees increases whenever he/she can change shift time in case of an emergency.

Establish a napping space

Workplace napping is becoming popular nowadays. A power nap for 15-20 minutes boosts the efficiency and productivity of the employee. Working for continuous 12 hours is a monotonous function.

Most of the employees feel sleepy while performing a 2-2-3 working schedule. A napping space can be a great help for the employee to eradicate boredom while working.

Help new employees

Suppose your new employees join your company who have no prior experience with 2-2-3 working schedules or 12 hours of the work shift. In that case, you should give them some time to adjust themselves.

Consider dedicating the first few days of employment to work and environment orientation for new employees. This will help them in changing to the 2-2-3 work pattern. Otherwise, they might face difficulties in working for an extended period of time.

Think about weekends

Working on weekends has pros and cons. You can run errands without much crowd. Go shopping in less busy hours so that you feel at ease and comfortable. But think about those employees who have children and fixed shift partners.

Probably they have only weekends for leisure time. Then spending time with them on the weekend is much more important than waiting for them on the normal workday. Managers should rationally allocate weekends during their off-working periods.

Provide plenty of breaks

When an employee is under stress, he/she can not produce quality work. The periodic breaks allow the employee to decompress. The human brain's attentional resources drop after a long period of working. 2-2-3 working schedule has a long 12-hour shift.

So while working for the whole 12 hours, employees need breaks. Taking regular intervals helps to develop the productivity and efficiency of the employee. Sometimes companies should allocate mandatory breaks for the employees.

Keeping an eye on the physical and mental health of the employees

Addressing employee well-being in the workplace enhances productivity. Some employees consider 12 hours of work and 12 hours of sleep. They don't do any physical exercise, even on the off days.

Some employees may have to stay at home during the night to look after their family members, but this is not possible for the night schedule. So it is suggested to all managers to take care of the mental and physical health of the employees.


Shift working brings a new dimension to the workplace. Rotating shift schedules allows employees to make a balance between work and life. The company’s growth productivity largely depends on the scheduling process of the employee.

2-2-3 work schedule or Panama scheduling is getting popular with its alternatives. Effective management of these scheduling will create a healthy and productive workspace. Every company should select an effective working schedule to get the best out of its employees.