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10 Ways To Optimize Your Office For Night Shift Workers

09 July 2024

Some jobs are more demanding than others; some shifts are more challenging to get through than others. The night shift–most kids don't grow up dreaming of working jobs requiring night shifts. Yes, we have medical practitioners, law enforcement, transport industry guys, hospitality agents, and the like, but the demands of the job are not immediately apparent to most people, especially without a person in the profession living under the same roof as you.

Most people only realize the tough demands of a night job when they marry a partner who does it, get into such jobs themselves, or sit next to a person coming from a night shift on the bus. Signing up to work night shifts part-time or permanently calls for sacrifices that a lot of folks are unwilling to make. For instance, the job forces you to flee most of your social commitments, adjust to a highly irregular sleep-wake cycle, accept a gradually lonely life, skimp on exercising and eating healthy, and a long list of other adjustments. It's a wonder that organizations still get people to agree to work under such conditions.

Today, we're trying to demystify night shifts to see if these workers can live a somewhat normal life with the right adjustments. We'll also highlight things employers can try and do to make the office more accommodating for night shift workers.

Why do People Sign Up for Night Shifts?

If you've listened to a person recant their horrors from working nights, you'd wonder why they signed up in the first place. While most employees have something to complain about in their workplaces, it feels like night shift workers drew the really short end of that stick. However, there are incentives that drive workers to sign up for such conditions. Below are a few examples:

Financial Incentives

Most organizations compensate night workers a percentage over their regular workers. If your life situation allows you to report to work past normal working hours, you can accumulate quite a chunk of change. Even better, you spend most of your morning hours sleeping, meaning you get to save on what the rest of society spends on socializing capital. This is the perfect way to get your finances in order for a person starting out life on their own.


This can be the perfect arrangement for people with kids who need to negotiate between drop-offs and pick-ups. You can rest after everyone is out of the house, get enough time to get up and clear through your to-do list, prepare the home for the family's evening routine, and then leave for work as they prepare to power down. It calls for sacrifice from your partner or domestic help in managing the fold in your absence. However, night workers also get more full days off than regular 9-5 workers, and you can reward your people by relieving them of duties on such days.

Stress-free Commute

Reporting for work after hours usually puts you against the rush hour, which means less chaotic drives and faster commutes. This helps maintain a calm bearing that is necessary to make it through your shift hours.

Relaxed Work Environment

This may not apply to health and hospitality workers. However, night shifts in regular office setups are more relaxed at night. It's no secret that workers are freer to be themselves in the absence of managers. Therefore, with minimum supervision, the office is calm, and workers get to carry out their tasks without a heavy cloud of urgency hovering above them.

Slower Pace of Life

Shopping, beauty appointments, going to the bank, sitting at a restaurant; virtually anything you can think of can be achieved without pushing and shoving, long queues, and without an unnecessary collective sense of urgency.

How Can Night Shift Workers Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance?

Now that you know the incentives, is there anything night workers can do to enjoy the incentives of the arrangement without dropping the ball in other areas?

Let's take a look at some.

Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine may seem like your best ally, but you can quickly develop a dependence. Prolonged intake also has some harmful effects, such as headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure, and chest pains. Instead, find better management techniques.

Stick to a routine. If you're working nights consistently, adopt a routine so your body can adjust your circadian rhythm. This helps the body retain optimal function and retain the restorative function that happens during the night as we sleep.

Occasionally schedule a social event. Do not completely close yourself off from society. Find opportunities to mingle with people during the day, catch some sun, and get some laughs in. This helps rejuvenate the body and mind.

Let people around you understand your schedule. If you're constantly rushing to be everyone's Superman on account of your availability during the day, you will burn out very fast. Explain to them your need to rest and don't be ready to compromise unless the urgency exceeds the normal threshold.

Get black-out blinds and get enough sleep. Ensure that you create the perfect conditions to power down without interference. Put your phone on silent if you have to and get some quality earplugs.

Exercise and eat healthy. Exercise can easily get away from you with an irregular schedule–find ways to fix it. Also, avoid the desire to survive on fast foods and unhealthy snacks.

How can Employers Optimize the Office for Night Shifts?

The bulk of the work in maintaining a healthy night shift environment falls on the employer. Let’s see how employers can give their employees the best chance at being efficient without neglecting their well-being.

Ergonomic Furniture

The importance of ergonomic furniture cannot be emphasized enough. Lack of ergonomic furniture can cost you huge co-pays for musculoskeletal disorders in your workforce, dozens of sick-off requests, unmeasured absenteeism, and inefficiency around the office, not to mention reduced productivity. Working an entire night shift is even worse when the workers are uncomfortable.

When employees work in strained positions, the discomfort removes their focus on the tasks assigned to them. The office manager should ensure that the furniture in every corner of the office is not just comfortable but also promotes healthy posture and, when necessary, accommodates light exercise.

Standing desks are a revolutionary invention for night shift workers. Without much allowance to roam outside, the workers must contend with standing occasionally to get a stretch in as the best form of activity. Switch between working comfortably when sitting and standing with desk height adjustability at your disposal. Standing desks also come in many designs, materials, and choices of accessories–you are guaranteed to get a standing desk that suits your personal and office style.

Pair your desk with an ergonomic office chair. Pick a chair that contours to your spine's natural curvature. One made of mesh fabric is more efficient in regulating your body temperature. Pick one that lifts to the most ideal position for your feet and elbows to avoid strain. A headrest, adjustable armrests, and a well-padded base are also essential in supporting those vital parts, especially when sitting through an entire night shift. The Premium Ergonomic Office Chair (C7) is one of the best picks.

Good Scheduling

A good roster keeps employees in proper rotation, ensuring a certain employee or group of employees isn't coming in on all weekends for nights or reporting to work on all the high-intensity days like the holidays. A good schedule should balance out the employees' hours to ensure they get as much rest and as much opportunity to check into their lives.

Due to the incentives associated with working weekends and holidays, some employees might request to get more of those days assigned. While this makes work easier for the scheduling manager (nobody likes working holidays), it is also their responsibility to guarantee that the employees are taking their necessary rest time instead of only focusing on the dollars.

Provide Healthy Food and Refreshments

It's already hectic enough trying to balance life, work, and eating clean on a regular work schedule. During the day, most restaurants stay open, and you have a variety of choices. The night shift is a different ball game. Shops and restaurants close, and your best bet at finding something to eat is probably a fast food joint or a convenience store.

If the budget allows, organizations can accommodate a catering company or healthy food vendor to deliver food for their staff on the night shift. It doesn't have to be a full spread–an assortment of healthy snacks, smoothies, fruits, etc, will do. Employees should also refrain from overeating during night shifts as the body doesn’t need too much fuel. Again, most people feel sleepy after eating heavy meals because a lot of blood is redirected towards digestion, leaving you feeling drowsy.

Emergency and Safety Protocols

You need to lay out the emergency protocols you have in place in case of an incident during the night shift. The resources available during the day, e.g., a dedicated fire marshall, an on-call physician, etc., may not be available should something happen. Train all your staff members on what to do during all types of emergencies, be it medical, fire, security breach, etc.

Properly equip your first aid kid, ensure that the building is up to code, and frequently perform a safety audit of the office. A lot of buildings also get cleaned, fumigated, and maintained after hours. Consider your night workers before calling in the maintenance crew or exterminator, and devise a workaround for them.


While the commute to work at night flows against regular traffic, it can get inconvenient when there are no reliable transport means. If the last bus leaves before your employee has to come to work, it would be unfair to expect them to report earlier or pay exorbitant cab fees out of pocket.

What works for most organizations is also scheduling night shift allocations around people who live in a certain area. This way, they can carpool, or the company can provide a shuttle to collect and deliver them to work. Alternatively, work transport compensation into your contracts and have them make their own calls on how to get to work.

Dedicate a Rest Zone

A quick power nap can energize your workers to be double as productive as they would be straining to keep awake through the night. You could slot a 30-minute allowance in each person's schedule to allow them to re-energize before returning to the floor. The break room is the ideal place for them to power down. As such, equip your break room with at least one or two comfortable sofas like 4-in-1 Convertible Sleeper Sofa Bed XCT1.

Bring in a Life Coach/ Therapist

Balancing night work and life obligations is not an easy feat for most people. Night shift workers have to deal with an altered circadian rhythm, constant fatigue, life and work demands, personal issues, etc., and it can all get a little overwhelming. What's worse is that the longer you've been working nights, the less connected you are to your former support system.

Talking to a licensed therapist can help your employees have an outlet for some things they can't discuss with others. A life coach might also have valuable insights on how to handle a healthy work-life balance, having seen others go through it. They don't have to do it individually if they find it polarizing; you can have the coach conduct a group session that lets everyone know that their problems are shared across the team, which can get a conversation going around the office.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning

How habitable is the office? Ensure that you have various technologies installed to regulate the temperature, humidity, and purity of the air in the office. This shouldn't be reserved for areas that experience extreme temperatures. An effective HVAC system aims to ensure thermal comfort and optimal air quality.

You can have movable fans instead of only having ceiling fans to accommodate people's different internal thermoregulation mechanisms. You can also consider installing heaters, especially during colder months. This is a better alternative to extremely warm clothing, as being excessively snuggly is a catalyst for sleeping through the shift.


Individual desk lamps are the most economical investments for an office with night workers. You don't need all your office lights on to serve only a fraction of the population. Desk lamps also allow individuals to adjust the lighting to their comfort without affecting other people on the shift.

Exercise Zone

Give your employees a place to get a workout in. Working out has proven benefits in re-energizing the body, which would work perfectly when your employees begin to experience that famous night shift fatigue. It doesn't even have to be a full-fledged gym. You could go with a Home office All-in-One Desk Bike/Bike Workstation V9 or underdesk treadmill. Whatever your choice, it will go a long way in improving your employees' health, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping them active throughout their shifts.

In Conclusion

When designing your office, it needs to be accommodative of all the functions it is meant to serve. Organizations are often obsessed with the large natural light windows, overhead light fixtures, and furniture that just get the job right, and nothing more, forgetting that the same office could be meant to serve workers with few extra needs like night workers. Employers need to be cognizant of the unique demands of a productive night at work and make the necessary accommodations. These solutions are not difficult to implement, and you don't have to overhaul everything overnight. Getting started is half the destination.