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All previous modeling research involving optimization of performance associated with work-rest cycles has focused upon individual employees working independently. We extend this earlier research by considering the choices of placement for and duration of a single rest period that must be taken simultaneously by all employees in a work group. Assuming linear work-rate decay and recovery functions for individual employees within the group, we show that an appropriate model can be formulated as a mixed-binary, cubic programming problem. We develop an efficient optimal solution procedure with a computational time that appears to be a linear function of the number of employees considered. We report on a preliminary simulation experiment that evaluates the productivity loss that occurs when the rest break policy is determined based on the work characteristics of a randomly selected subset of employees in the work group, and provides an initial exploration of the nature of optimal policy variables. Finally, we offer suggestions for future research.


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© INFORMS. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Final version published as: Bechtold, S. E., & Thompson, G. M. (1993). Optimal scheduling of a flexible-duration rest period for a work group. Operations Research, 41(6), 1010-1176. doi: 10.1287/opre.41.6.1046