The alarm went off at 5:30 am, jolting John awake. As he got out of bed, John wondered again if working the “first shift” was right for him. He had started this early factory job after high school. Now, 5 years later, he still wasn’t used to the pre-dawn hours.

Did You Know?

Over 15 million Americans work odd shifts like evenings, nights, or early mornings. About 1/3 of those people work the first shift, typically starting between 6-8 am.

At first, the extra money was nice. But John had started questioning if the early hours were worth the health and social costs. 

Sipping his morning coffee, John looked at the pros and cons of the first shift. Could the good parts make up for the bad? What could he do to make the mornings easier? John was determined to make his early bird schedule work better.

This article shares John’s experience of adapting to the first shift. For all the sleepyheads out there, you’re not alone!


Working the first shift has advantages and challenges that require strategizing for success. This blog provides an overview of the first shift –

  • What do you mean by first shift?
  • About first shift hours
  • First shift vs. other shifts
  • Benefits like work-life balance and evening freedom
  • Tips for optimizing the early schedule 
  • Difficulties with working the first shift
  • Overcoming first shift challenges with Workstatus

The first shift allows for work-life harmony and career development despite some hurdles. With proper strategies, the first shift catalyzes personal and professional success.

What Do You Mean By First Shift?

The “first shift” refers to the early work hours in a typical day. The first shift starts after midnight and ends in the early afternoon.

For many companies, the first shift starts around 6-8 am and goes until 3-5 pm. This covers the standard business hours for most office jobs.

Employees working the first shift must wake up early to get ready and commute to work. Their day starts when it’s still dark out. They experience the morning rush hour traffic.

The first shift workers start the morning at companies by opening up, turning on lights, booting up computers, etc. They handle the start of the business day.

The early schedule allows first-shift staff to finish by mid-afternoon. They can enjoy daylight hours for errands and activities after work. But the morning start requires disciplined sleep habits.

What Are First Shift Hours?

The specific start and end times can vary depending on the company, but first shift hours generally fall within the daylight part of the day.

Some examples of common first-shift schedules:

  • 7 am to 3 pm
  • 6:30 am to 2:30 pm
  • 8 am to 4 pm

The first shift is generally 8 hours long, aligned with the standard workday. It starts in the early AM and finishes in the early PM.

First Shift vs. Second Shift vs. Third Shift vs. Split Shift

Here is a comparison table of different work shift types:

Shift Type Typical Business Hours Who’s It Great For? Other Common Names
First Shift 6-8 am to 2-4 pm
  • Morning people
  • People who like having evenings free
  • Day shift
  • Early shift
Second Shift 2-4 pm to 10 pm-12 am
  • Night owls 
  • People without morning commitments
  • Those seeking less oversight
  • Late shift
  • Evening shift
Third Shift 10 pm-12 am to 6-8 am
  • Extreme night owls
  • Those who value quiet work time
  • Graveyard shift
  • Overnight shift
Split Shift Two distinct periods like 8-11 am and 4-7 pm
  • Parents who need childcare flexibility
  • People who need to take care of responsibilities between shifts
  • Splitters
  • Gap shift

The optimal shift depends on individual preferences around sleep, commute, and responsibilities outside work. Each shift type caters to different lifestyles and schedules.

The Advantages Of Working The First Shift

Here are some major advantages of working the first shift:

1. Consistent Work Schedule

Working the first shift means having a consistent and predictable work schedule

It helps employees plan their daily lives more effectively, fostering a better work-life balance. 

Setting fixed work hours each day enables better time management and lowers stress levels

2. Optimal Business Hours

The first shift typically aligns with regular business hours, ensuring employees work during the most productive and efficient times. 

Having regular work hours helps employees stay alert and focused. This allows them to do higher-quality work and be more productive.

3. Increased Availability for Meetings

Working the morning shift means employees can easily collaborate, attend meetings, and discuss work during normal business hours.

This increased availability facilitates better communication and teamwork, as team members can easily coordinate and address important matters without scheduling conflicts.

4. Cost Efficiency

Operating during standard business hours can contribute to cost efficiency. 

Utilities and resources are often optimized during the day, and businesses may save on overtime expenses that could be incurred during evening or night shifts. 

It can positively impact your revenue and contribute to the organization’s financial health.

5. Employee Well-Being and Satisfaction

A consistent first-shift schedule promotes better sleep patterns and overall well-being for employees. 

The alignment with natural daylight hours can positively impact mental health, making employees more satisfied and engaged. 

A happy and well-rested workforce will likely be more engaging and productive.

6. Better Coordination Among Teams

When everyone is on the same schedule, coordination among different teams becomes more seamless. 

It can lead to improved collaboration, faster decision-making, and a more cohesive work environment. 

The ability for teams to easily communicate and share information can enhance overall efficiency and effectiveness.

7. Easier Management and Supervision

For managers and supervisors, overseeing a workforce on the first shift is often more straightforward. 

With a clear and consistent schedule, it becomes easier to monitor employee performance, provide timely feedback, and address any issues that may arise. 

It can lead to more effective management practices and a smoother organizational workflow.

Struggling To Manage A Dispersed First Shift Team?

Improve Visibility And Accountability With Workstatus.

 6 Tips For Working The First Shift

Here are six important tips for working the first shift:

1. Prioritize Tasks

When working the first shift, it’s crucial to prioritize your tasks. 

Identify the most important and time-sensitive assignments to tackle early in the day, ensuring a more organized and efficient workday. 

By focusing on priorities first, you set yourself up for success and reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed.

2. Create a Morning Routine

Establishing a morning routine can kickstart your day on a positive note. 

Having the same morning routine every day – like eating a healthy breakfast, exercising, or practicing mindfulness – can help make the start of the day positive.

It can increase energy levels and mental clarity during work hours.

3. Prepare the Night Before

To make your mornings smoother, prepare for the next day the night before. 

Lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, and organize your work essentials. 

This minimizes morning stress, saves time, and lets you start your first shift with a clear and focused mind, ready to tackle your responsibilities.

4. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Keeping a regular sleep routine is essential for those working the first shift. 

Ensure you get enough sleep each night by going to bed and waking up at the same time consistently. 

It helps regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting better overall health, alertness, and productivity during working hours.

5. Stay Connected with Colleagues

Communication is key in any workplace. Stay connected with your colleagues daily to exchange information updates and collaborate on tasks. 

Whether through in-person conversations, phone calls, or digital platforms, maintaining open lines of communication fosters a positive work environment and enhances teamwork.

6. Take Breaks Strategically

While working the first shift, taking breaks strategically is important to recharge and maintain focus. 

Breaks can include short walks, stretching exercises, or a brief moment of relaxation. 

Scheduled breaks can increase productivity and prevent burnout, ensuring you remain energized and effective throughout your workday.

Challenges Of The First Shift

Here are the major challenges of the first shift:

1. Limited Flexibility

Working the first shift may require limited flexibility in adjusting your work hours. 

This lack of flexibility can be difficult for individuals needing more adaptable schedules due to personal or family commitments.

2. Potential for Understaffing During Peak Hours

During busy or peak hours, there is a risk of being understaffed on the first shift. 

It can lead to increased workload for employees and potential challenges in meeting customer demands or completing tasks efficiently.

3. Increased Operational Costs

Operating during standard business hours on the first shift can increase operational costs.

Utilities, equipment, and resources may be utilized more during these peak hours, contributing to increased expenses for the organization.

4. Time Zone Challenges

For companies that operate globally, the first shift may pose challenges related to time zones. 

Coordinating with teams or clients in different time zones can be difficult, leading to potential delays in communication and project timelines.

5. Potential Burnout

Employees on the first shift may face a risk of burnout, especially if they consistently work long hours without adequate breaks. 

The pressure to perform during standard business hours can contribute to stress and fatigue, affecting physical and mental well-being.

6. Overreliance on Single-Shift Operation

Relying solely on the first shift may limit operational flexibility. 

Unexpected events, emergencies, or workload fluctuations may strain the system, as there might not be additional shifts to handle increased demand or address urgent issues efficiently. 

This overreliance can impact overall adaptability and responsiveness.

Dealing With First Shift Productivity And Attendance Issues?

Get Real-Time Workforce Data With Workstatus.

Overcoming First Shift Challenges With Workstatus

Working the early first shift poses unique challenges like lack of flexibility, morning rush hour commutes, and fatigue from the early wake-up. 

Thankfully, tools like Workstatus provide useful solutions tailored to alleviate first-shift difficulties. 

Workstatus Features:

1. Activity Level Monitoring

Activity Level Monitoring

Workstatus’s productivity tracking gives managers clear insights into employee energy, focus, and effort patterns over the first shift hours. 

By understanding these trends, managers can better assign tasks and projects based on peak productivity times and natural highs and lows in energy.

2. Flexible Scheduling


Workstatus enables employers to easily manage shift swaps, change hours, or offer shift coverage for first-shift employees. 

It brings more flexibility to an otherwise rigid early morning schedule. Managers maintain oversight of all scheduling changes.

3. Remote Work Options

Remote Work Options

Working remotely, even a few days a week, removes the grueling morning commute that many find draining when working the first shift. 

Workstatus’s robust remote worker management features enable partial or fully remote schedules while still maintaining productivity.

4. Time Off Management 

Time Off Management

Using Workstatus’s comprehensive PTO tracking features, first-shift employees can seamlessly request time off, view balances, and manage approvals. 

It empowers people to recharge from early mornings properly.

5. Overtime Insights

Overtime Insights

Workstatus’s detailed timesheet reporting and overtime tracking bring visibility into overtime trends across the first shift team. 

It allows managers to adjust workloads before burnout becomes an issue proactively.

6. Payroll Automation

Payroll Automation

By automating payroll calculations, Workstatus eliminates manual errors that can often crop up when processing non-standard hours like early first shifts. 

Everything stays accurate.

With Workstatus’s suite of workforce management tools, first-shift challenges like inflexibility, commute struggles, and fatigue can be mitigated or avoided altogether. 

The platform supports both managers and employees in optimizing the early schedule.

Health And Well-being Considerations

Working the early hours of the first shift can impact energy levels, sleep quality, diet, exercise, and overall work-life balance. Focusing on getting adequate sleep through a consistent evening routine is important. 

Eating a healthy breakfast fuels the morning, while meal prepping ensures you have good options. 

Late afternoon and early evening workouts fit best with first-shift hours. Managing stress is also essential – take short breaks during the shift and don’t neglect taking vacation time. 

Make the most of your evenings off to spend time with family, pursue hobbies, and socialize. Use public transit, carpool, or shift your commute to reduce traffic strain if possible. 

Adjustments to your daily habits and lifestyle allow you to maintain your health and well-being while working the demanding first shift schedule.

Closing Thoughts

Working the early first shift has its advantages and difficulties. But with the right strategies, you can make the most of the morning schedule. 

Some key benefits are avoiding rush hour, having evenings free, and aligning with business hours. However, challenges like lack of flexibility and morning fatigue arise, too.

To optimize the first shift, focus on maintaining a consistent sleep routine, preparing the night before, creating efficient morning processes, and taking breaks to recharge. 

While not without some sacrifices, the first shift enables productivity and work-life balance. Employees and managers can thrive during the critical early morning hours with the tips outlined.

The first shift sets the tone for the workday. Professionals can maximize their performance, health, and job satisfaction by understanding its nuances and using proactive strategies.

Losing Time To First Shift Distractions And Process Gaps?

Workstatus Streamlines Operations For Stronger Oversight.

Finding it hard to maintain team efficiency in today’s dynamic work environment?

Learn how to adapt and thrive with our actionable tips in this insightful video.