With technology a core part of everyday life, it’s only fitting that employee scheduling uses modern technology as well. After all, there were 82.3 million hourly workers in the United States in 2019. The process to get these millions of workers scheduled has been arduous historically. But lately developments in employee scheduling have made it easier to make and distribute schedules.

Free employee scheduling software like Homebase takes into account the mobile-first direction that the US is heading in. Homebase allows managers to make schedules and changes on the fly from their mobile devices, and that certainly improves their daily workflow.

In this guide we’ll walk through the five main aspects that make up the modern employee scheduling experience for businesses of all sizes and all types. No matter what kind of business, new ways to schedule your employees are here and can save you a lot of time. 

Ready to start using modern scheduling tools? Sign up for Homebase today!

Collecting Availability for Employee Scheduling

The first step in scheduling employees is to understand when your employees are available. 

There are two ways to do this. For employees with a set schedule, managers can note their availability so that they know which employees they can count on each day. On the other hand, an employee without a set schedule can give their preferred days and indicate when they would like a day off.

The next step is approving or denying those time off requests. This gets messy when done with pen and paper. Nightmares of an 8×11 sheet of paper with numerous post-it notes with day off requests and needs for customized hours come to mind. The process isn’t much better when employees email or text in these requests.

Managers need to know when they can count on certain employees with minimal back-and-forth. They also need all the information in one place to ensure they complete their employee scheduling quickly and accurately.

With a free scheduling app like Homebase, managers can keep all shift swap requests in one place. Sign up today!

Labor Forecasting

Now that you know who is available, the next step is to figure out how many employees you’ll need. If you have a smaller business, you might have a good understanding of your scheduling needs because they’re fairly consistent. But the bigger your staff, the more complicated it might be.

That’s why data is your friend when it comes to a free online scheduling tool. Knowing how many employees you had on staff that particular day in past years gives you insight into what might work this time around. 

However you choose to complete your forecasting, doing it correctly is very important. By having the right staff on hand when you need them, your business runs smoother, you reduce the need for overtime, and you don’t have to be frantic when you’re up to your ears in an unexpected rush. 

Homebase tracks time worked and labor costs to make labor forecasting a breeze. Sign up for free today! 

Once you get all the data you need from employees and through business trends, it’s time to get to work.

Creating Your Schedule

There’s so much that happens before and after you make your schedule, but let’s not forget about the main goal: creating a schedule that meets both business and employee needs. No matter the form that your schedule comes in, it needs to be digestible. That means formatting it in a way that makes sense to everyone who will need to interact with it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your schedule:

  • Stay organized: Consider color coding or using icons to differentiate between job functions or shifts to keep things organized on the manager and employee sides.  
  • Stay consistent: If you have the good fortune of having a consistent schedule week after week, consider making a template. Especially when using employee scheduling software, this will help you save time when you can simply access it and copy it to the next week with just one click.

Once your schedule is finalized, the distribution fun begins.

Schedule Communication

So you’ve completed your employee schedule—congrats! Now it’s time to push it out to your employees so that they’re aware of when they need to be at work. This is a notoriously tricky part of employee scheduling. 

Let’s go over some potential ways to distribute your schedule:

  • Email: This may work well for businesses with tech-savvy employees. But how will you send it out? Is it an email that goes out to all employees or do you want to send personalized emails so that employees aren’t inundated with replies that don’t relate to them? 
  • Text Messages: Some managers at small businesses choose to distribute their schedules via text. Whether in a group or sent out individually, text messages can be an easy way to get your team on the same page. 
  • App: There’s an app for just about everything these days, but they are also great places to centralize information. An app is perfect for businesses that want to save time and stay organized.

The great thing about modern employee scheduling apps is that they come with push notifications, so employees can get notified immediately when their new schedule is live. 

Employees just need to know when they’re working, so find what works for the majority of your staff and stick with that.

Shift Swapping

Now that your work schedule is complete and sent out to employees, the inevitable next step is shift swaps. You might think that your work here is done once it’s in employee hands, but something often comes up and a quick switch with a coworker can fix it.

But not all schedules are flexible. Maybe one employee will go over their hours if you let them pick up open shifts. Or maybe an employee has requested to change with the wrong “Sarah” and the schedule will be off if you approve it accidentally. If you have systems in place to alert you when a shift swap won’t work, then you will be much less likely to make an uninformed switch. 

As you can see, scheduling is far more complicated than just picking who works when. But don’t worry, free employee scheduling software from Homebase makes it easier. Plus, we have time clocks, hiring tools, and compliance tools to keep your business running smoothly.

Ready to find a new modern employee scheduling solution? Sign up for Homebase today!


Want to learn more? Check out our articles on picking the best time and attendance tracking tool and reducing overtime costs.