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Introduction to Layers in on-call schedules

Understand the basics of Layers in on-call scheduling and how it helps you bring flexibility into scheduling

What are Layers in on-call schedules?

Layers are schedules with the same key components as members, handoff, rotation and slots. You can add multiple layers to one on-call schedule. This helps you give flexibility over timings and members.
Layers for your on-call schedule are organised sequentially in ascending order. This means when timing overlaps between Layer 2 and Layer 1, the higher layer will overlap the lower ones, i.e. in this case Layer 2 will overlap 1.
For 3 layers, Layer 3 will take overlap over 1 and 2.
Every on-call schedule will have at least one layer

What does overlapping mean?

In simple words - if both layers have common times then Layer 2 will overlap calendar schedules from layer 1. Let's take an example.

Understand layers with an example

Here is a simple on-call schedule with 2 members rotating each day. This means one of the members is on-call every day covering for the entire week.
All days - Daily rotation among 2 members
Just one layer to our schedule
This is how the calendar looks like with just the above layer in our on-call schedule
Calendar for above on-call schedule with just one layer

Adding the weekend layer to override

Now, this could be too much to handle. How about we give them a break over the weekend and ask other members to help out.
To enable this, we can add another layer with weekly rotation among members who only need to be on-call from Friday 6 PM to Monday 9 AM
Weekdays - Daily rotation among 2 members Weekends - One person for the entire weekend rotating weekly
2 separate layers, one for weekday and another for weekend
Members from Layer 1 will be on-call every alternate day, on all weekdays and members from Layer 2 will be on-call for the entire alternate weekend (since weekly rotation has been applied).
This is how the calendar looks with both layers.
Calendar with 2 layers, one set of members for weekdays and another for weekend

How did overlapping work here?

Members from Layer 2 will overlap the scheduled on-call from Friday 6 PM to Monday 9 AM.
If the weekend layer was Layer 1 and the weekday layer was Layer 2 then the weekend layer would have never come to effect. There are no limits on number of layers to be added on a single on-call schedule
You can start experimenting with layers by editing the same schedule as many times as you want.

FAQs on Layers

  • Can I add a layer temporarily?
    • You can add a layer and then delete it. A common use case if a person needs to take the day off and someone else has agreed to cover them, then add a new layer to cover that day alone. Once the day is passed, delete the layer.
  • How many layers can I add?
    • There is no limitation. Our recommendation is to avoid adding too many layers. Otherwise, it could get confusing how the calendar works and as a result teams usually hesitate to delete any layer.
  • How many members can be added in one layer?
    • There is no limit here either.