Recently updated on: September 30, 2023
I spent three of the first four years of my career working on the night shift, and the benefits of working at night will never outweigh its disadvantages, in my opinion.
However, working at night has been a privilege for many Filipinos since it usually pays more, especially in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry.
In this post, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of working on the night shift and why I now choose to avoid it as much as possible.
Table of Contents
What is the Night Shift?
Before we go into the advantages and disadvantages of working on the night shift, we first need to define the night shift.
A general workday is usually divided into three shifts - morning, mid, and night.
The morning or regular shifts are usually from 8 AM to 6 PM. This is also usually what the 9-5 working hours mean to most working professionals.
On the other hand, the night or graveyard shift generally starts from 11 PM to 6 AM. However, depending on the company policy, it can be later than or earlier than that.
The middle of the morning and night is the mid-shift, which can be from 10 AM to 8 PM, 12 PM to 10 PM, or 2 PM to 12 AM. However, it can also fall on other hours.
In my night shift experience, I used to work from 9 PM to 7 AM (10 hours), though it may sometimes start as early as 5 PM (up to 3 AM) or as late as 11 PM (up to 9 AM).
Benefits of Working on the Night Shift
While my main purpose in writing this is mostly to list the downsides of working on the night shift, it is still important to recognize why people choose to work at the "graveyard."
Here are some of the benefits of working on the night shift.
1. Higher Salary
The most notable benefit of working on the night shift is the mandated night differential payment of 10% (for private) to 20% (for government employees) on top of your hourly salary that falls within the timeframe.
For example, you are working from 8 PM to 6 AM and your company policy defines the night shift from 10 PM to 6 AM with an 18% night differential.
This means that you will receive an additional 18% on your hourly wage falling between 10 PM to 6 AM (8 hours), while your working hour of 8 PM to 10 PM (2 hours) will remain the same.
For many people working on the night shift, this differential payment is enough to flip their day and night.
2. Lighter Traffic (Plus Taxi Allowance)
Another advantage of working on the night shift is the lighter traffic compared to the regular shift.
Lighter traffic is especially true if you're shift is outside the peak rush hour of Metro Manila. However, it may also be difficult to find jeepneys, UVs, or buses late at night or early in the morning.
Due to the difficulty of commuting, companies also usually choose to give (or subsidize) their employees' taxi fares by giving them transportation allowance.
In my first job, our taxi allowance was ₱100 if we didn't have a taxi receipt, but our company would match the fare if the taxi or ride-hailing app issued a receipt.
However, since telecommuting or working from home has already been integrated into the company, the traffic issue may sometimes be a lesser concern.
3. Opportunities of Working with a Foreign Client
If you're a freelancer or self-employed looking to work with foreign clients in the western hemisphere, working at night may sometimes be required so you can synch with the on-shore employees' shift.
This allows night shift workers to earn a higher salary since their clients usually pay in dollars.
Call center agents are generally placed on night shifts since they support western clients, like the US or EU.
Drawbacks of Working on the Night Shift
Now that we acknowledged the advantages of working on the night shift, I will add the drawbacks of working on the "graveyard."
It has been studied that working on the night shift have negative effects on the worker's health, which is connected to the messed up circadian rhythm, sleep deprivation, and low level of sunlight.
1. Physical Health
The most common negative effect of working on the night shift affects our physical health. Studies have linked night time work to increased health risks to lifestyle diseases, like obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and some forms of cancer.
In my experience, I was generally healthy before I started a shifting work schedule. However, after working on the graveyard shift, I became too sickly and had to get checked up more regularly than before.
I also had a few workmates who had to request permanent morning shifts after their doctor advised them to avoid night shifts if they wanted to be healthy.
I believe the added income from the night differential will never compensate for the negative impact of working on the night shift.
Remember that our actions, while we're young, are like saving up on our health's piggy bank.
2. Mental Health
The next negative effect of working on the night shift impacts our mental health.
There have been studies correlating night shift works to depression and mood swings.
I experienced heavier bouts of depression during my graveyard shift work, which I tried to combat through sleep, diet, and exercise. Though my routine changes helped, the better solution for me was to work on the regular shift.
I think the irregular sleep or sometimes lack of sleep due to the daytime noise and heat has also contributed to a decline in my mental health during the night shift.
3. Social Health
Unless our friends and families are also working on the night shift, waking up at night and sleeping during the day will impact our relationships.
I remember one of my projects that required 24x7 monitoring. My shift was from 9 PM to 7 AM, Wednesday to Sunday, so my days off were Monday and Tuesday. Because of that shift, I never had time to meet with my family and friends on weekends.
Then on the latter part of my night shift projects with regular weekends off, I would rather join hiking and mountain climbing events than sleep because I needed social connections.
4. Personal Safety
The added risk of working on the night shift is also connected to our safety going to and from the office. This is most notable if you're commuting during the light traffic hours of the nighttime and dawn of Metro Manila.
I had several workmates who were mugged on their way to the office or on their way home.
The good thing is that many companies now allow working from home, decreasing commute time and lessening safety risks.
The night shift work is also called the graveyard shift for a reason (just kidding)! However, our bodies are not designed to work in the opposite time zone.
Though there are advantages of working at night, especially financially, there are also disadvantages, especially to our physical and mental health.
So, if I ever get another opportunity to work on the night shift, I will have to decline. The added 10-20% income is not worth the risk because I want to be healthier for my loved ones.