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The Daytime Dominator: Why First Shift Reigns Supreme

The Daytime Dominator: Why First Shift Reigns Supreme

Family Time, Sunshine, and Career Growth: The First Shift Advantage
What Is First Shift

As dawn breaks and the world rises, businesses set their gears in motion with the opening chapter of the day: "first shift."  

First shift starts the workday, setting the tone for everything that lies ahead. But, what exactly is first shift, and why does it hold such significance in the realm of workforce management? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more in this OnTheClock blog article. 

What Is First Shift?

Rhetorically, first shift (aka the morning or day shift) is the initial shift of the day. Employees assigned to first shift typically start at or after 7 a.m. and leave at or before 5 p.m. Common first shift work hours include 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A wide range of occupations across various industries utilize first shift schedules, including administrative assistants, customer service reps, retail sales associates, bank tellers, and more. First shift often incorporates roles that support the foundational functions of businesses during regular business hours. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 83.6% of all workers aged 15 and older worked a daytime schedule in 2017-2018.

Tip: Use a Scheduling Tool to see the different shifts clearly so you can manage your staff schedules better.

First Shift Compared to Second and Third Shifts

While first shift hours are most common, workers are often called upon to work throughout the remainder of the day in second and third shift roles. 

First Shift Compared to Second and Third Shifts

Second Shift

The second shift (aka afternoon or evening shift) refers to a period of work hours that typically occurs in the late afternoon or evening and extends into the night. Second shift is often structured to accommodate businesses that operate beyond regular daytime hours or need to provide customers with extended service coverage. The second shift typically begins in the late afternoon, around mid-afternoon or early evening (generally around 3-4 p.m.) and ends late at night, typically around midnight or in the early morning hours.

Some common occupations utilizing second shift include gas stations, fast food restaurants, health care facilities, manufacturing shops, and more. 

Third Shift

The third shift (aka the night or graveyard shift) refers to a period of work hours that typically occurs overnight, spanning from late evening (11 p.m. or midnight) to early morning hours (7-8 a.m.). It is often structured to accommodate businesses that require around-the-clock operations or extended service coverage during nighttime hours when most people are asleep.

Typical occupations that work third shift hours include security guards, health care workers, cleaning crews, transportation drivers, and more. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16% of U.S. wage and salary workers have non-standard work schedules, which include evenings, nights, weekends, and rotating shifts.

Benefits of Working First Shift

Working the first shift offers workers several benefits that cater to both professional and personal preferences. Here are some advantages of working the first shift:

Consistency: First shift schedules typically align with traditional business hours, starting in the morning and ending in the early evening. This consistency allows workers to maintain a regular routine, making it easier to plan activities outside of work and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Here Comes the Sun: Employees on the first shift benefit from having more daylight hours available to them after work. This can enhance mood and productivity, as exposure to natural light has been linked to improved mood, energy levels, and overall well-being.

Family Fun Time: Working the first shift often allows employees to spend more time with family and friends in the evenings, allowing them to participate in after-work social activities, attend family events, and engage in hobbies or recreational pursuits without feeling rushed or fatigued.

Personal Obligations: Many businesses and services operate during regular business hours, making it convenient for first shift workers to schedule appointments, run errands, and handle personal matters without having to take time off from work or disrupt their schedule.

Skirting Traffic: Employees on the first shift may experience lighter traffic during their commutes compared to rush hour traffic during peak times. This can result in shorter commute times, less stress on the road, and a more pleasant overall commuting experience.

Career Advancement: Some companies offer more opportunities for career advancement and professional development to employees working the first shift. This may include access to training programs, networking events, and promotions that are more readily available during regular business hours. 

Health Benefits: Research suggests consistent sleep schedules, which are easier to maintain on the first shift, contribute to better overall health outcomes. Workers on the first shift may experience improved sleep quality, which can positively impact their physical and mental well-being.

Drawbacks of First Shift Work

While the first shift offers many advantages, there are some potential drawbacks associated with this schedule too. Here are few examples:

Early Starts: One of the most significant challenges of the first shift is waking up early in the morning to start work. For individuals who are not naturally early risers or who struggle with getting enough sleep, waking up before dawn can be difficult and may lead to feelings of fatigue and grogginess throughout the day.

Morning Rush: Working the first shift often means dealing with the chaos that may occur in the morning. If the employee has children, he or she may have to prepare them for their day, packing lunches, combing hair, and ensuring they make it to the bus stop on time. 

Limited Evening Availability: While first shift workers enjoy having evenings free, they may miss out on social activities or events that take place during the evening hours. This can make it challenging to participate in after-work gatherings, attend evening classes, or engage in hobbies that require evening availability.

Balancing Daytime Responsibilities: Tending to personal responsibilities, such as child care, household chores, and errands, can be challenging for first shift workers, especially if they have limited time available in the evenings. This can lead to feelings of stress and overwhelm as they try to juggle work and personal commitments.

Potential for Burnout: The early start time and demanding schedule of the first shift can increase the risk of burnout, especially if employees do not prioritize self-care and relaxation outside of work hours. Over time, the cumulative effects of early wake-up times and long workdays can take a toll on an individual’s physical and mental well-being.

Absent for Brunch: Working early means workers may miss out on morning activities, such as breakfast with family, exercise routines, mom group outings, or quiet time for personal reflection. This can impact overall well-being and contribute to feelings of being rushed or stressed in the morning.

Tips for Success:

Effectively navigating the challenges of working different shifts and optimizing your productivity, well-being, and work-life balance requires careful planning, adaptability, and self-care. Here are some tips for success when managing various work shifts:

Disciplined Sleep: Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on days off. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and ensures you get enough restful sleep regardless of your work shift.

Time Management: Use time management techniques, such as creating to-do lists, setting priorities, and breaking tasks into manageable chunks, to stay organized and productive during and after each shift. Allocate specific time slots for work-related tasks, personal activities, and relaxation to maximize efficiency.

Remain Flexible: Be prepared to adapt to changes in your work schedule or unexpected events that may arise. Develop strategies for handling last-minute shift changes, such as arranging for backup child care or transportation options, to minimize disruptions to your routine.

Give Yourself a Break: Schedule regular breaks during your shift to rest, recharge, and prevent burnout. Use breaks to stretch, hydrate, and refuel with nutritious snacks to maintain energy levels and focus throughout the day.

Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies that help you relax and unwind outside of work. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is essential for maintaining resilience and managing stress associated with different work shifts.

Communicate Effectively: Keep lines of communication open with your supervisor, coworkers, and family members to ensure everyone is aware of your work schedule and any potential conflicts or commitments. Clearly communicate your availability and preferences regarding shift assignments to minimize misunderstandings.

Practice Good Nutrition: Fuel your body with balanced meals and snacks rich in protein, fiber, and nutrients to sustain energy levels and promote overall health. Avoid relying on caffeine or sugary snacks to stay awake during overnight shifts, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to energy crashes later on.

Plan for Recovery: Allocate time for rest and recovery between shifts, especially if transitioning between different work schedules or rotating shifts. Allow yourself sufficient time to rest and rejuvenate before returning to work to prevent fatigue and maintain peak performance.


First shift work plays a vital role in the workforce landscape, serving as the cornerstone of many businesses' daily operations. Aligned with traditional business hours, the first shift offers employees a range of benefits, including consistency, ample daylight hours, and opportunities for family and personal activities. 

Whether you're an early riser embracing the dawn of a new day or a night owl seeking to thrive in a world of daylight hours, understanding and adapting to different work shifts is key to achieving success in today's dynamic workplace environment. 

Using a time tracking system, such as OnTheClock, employers can easily set, edit, and customize shifts. The software allows employers to set up employee schedules, inputting specific shift start and end times for each worker. Additionally, managers can also review historical shifts, in case of a discrepancy or to answer a question. OnTheClock also offers numerous other benefits, allowing employees to clock in and out using various methods, such as web-based time clocks, mobile apps, or physical time clocks, depending on the company's preferences and setup. For more information, or to trial OnTheClock free for 30 days, visit

Frequently asked questions


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 83.6% of all workers aged 15 and older worked a daytime schedule in 2017-2018.


According to Redline, part-time workers are twice as likely as full-time workers to have non-daytime schedules (27.3% vs 13.6%).


Workers in leisure/hospitality (37%), transportation/utilities (26%), and wholesale/retail trade (25%) were more likely to work non-day schedules.


Younger workers are more likely to work non-daytime shifts. A total of 31.9% of 15- to 24-year-old employees worked non-daytime shifts vs. 15.3% of 55- to 64-year-old workers.


Women were slightly less likely than men to work non-day hours (15.2% vs. 17.6%).

OnTheClock Employee Time Tracking

Written by

Herb Woerpel

Herb Woerpel is a copywriter with OnTheClock. He has 17-plus years of professional journalism experience working for community and national media outlets.

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