New Skill: Creative Scheduling!

I love a good challenge. I get a thrill from finding creative solutions to problems. It’s a skill I have been able to really develop and utilize as an officer in my local volunteer fire department. So, when a friend of mine asked me for help developing a new schedule for his job, I jumped at the chance.

My best friend, college roommate, and all around hetero-life-mate, Kyle works in Law Enforcement as a Sheriff’s Deputy here in my home county. He works the night shift, and their schedule was terrible. There are only 3-night shift personnel, so standard public service schedules wouldn’t work. Since their current schedules would require them to work 6 consecutive 12-hour shifts, and nobody got an entire weekend off, his supervisor gave him the go-ahead to create a new schedule and if the all three-night personnel agreed, he’d submit it to the Sheriff for approval. Thus, “The Parker Schedule” was born.

There certain criteria that had to be followed as I created it. The officers had to maintain exactly 84 hours in a two week pay period, at least two officers had to be on shift all nights, they didn’t want to work more than 4 straight days, the pay period had to start on Monday, and they wanted to have entire weekends off. Monday thru Thursday, only 1-night shift person needs to be on shift due to coverage from swing shift personnel. So, I fired up Excel and got to work.

Parker Schedule-Shifts

I started with making sure each Officer would maintain their 84 hours per pay period. Which meant making 21 shifts available over the course of 14 days. Since two of them had to be on Friday through Sunday, I needed to have 2 officers be on shift one more day through the week. Since we are a tourist area, and our little county sees a boom in visitors during the weekends, I though the best day to this was on a Thursday. Putting 2 officers on shift every Thursday would create overtime, something I couldn’t do, so I had to settle with the extra officer every other Thursday.

Parker Schedule-WeekendsThe only way I could make sure they each got a weekend off is to rotate them. They would get every third weekend off in their entirety, but as a tradeoff, they would have to work the whole weekend the two weeks prior. I soon realized that this schedule couldn’t run in 3-week cycles since it wouldn’t make their shifts fall correctly in the pay periods. Once I converted it into a six-week cycle, things started to fall into place easier. Once I stated working on the six-week cycle, I thought it would be easier to make the “extra shift” Thursday follow the weekend schedule that followed it. Then I started to fill out the rest of the week.

This is the result. After several failed drafts, I came up with this solution. Every two-week pay period is based on a pattern. Once I got the first 2 weeks to work, I just repeated the pattern shifting each person around to make sure everything kept working. After I showed Kyle, we made a 12 week mock up to double check for any problems. The only real concern is every six weeks a Deputy will have to work 3 days, have one day off, and then must work an additional 2 days. Kyle said that was a non-issue. In checking the mock up, we also found another surprise benefit. Every second weekend they have off will start a 6-day break!

I spoke to Kyle today and asked him how his fellow Deputies felt about the new “Parker Schedule”. They loved it, his supervisor loved it, and it was submitted to the Sheriff for final approval on Monday, and we should hear back sometime this week if he’ll accept it. It will make it much easier for Kyle and his co-workers to schedule things months in advance, and it will reduce fatigue from working 6 days straight. While this will be great for our Deputies, the best benefit is for me, every three weeks, Kyle and I can bro it up again.



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