There are better tools than the classic pen and paper or Microsoft Word to carry out this crucial but very time-consuming task. That said, we thought it might be a good idea to come up with a short list of software to help out managers like you with creating an employee work schedule. Here are 5 free ways to create and share your employees’ shift schedules.
1. Google Agenda
Google Agenda lets you plan out and coordinate employees' schedules. How does it work? Simply create a new calendar, add events (work shifts) to it, and then invite your employees by typing their email addresses in the relevant event.
You can use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to create schedules that way.
To let your employees see the full schedule, invite each of them to subscribe to your work calendar. You won’t have to share it every single time you create or modify something. However, do make sure your employees check back regularly.
Google Agenda is adequate for teams of five people or less.
2. Google Sheets
Google Sheets is an online counterpart to the Excel spreadsheet. It has two major advantages: the information you add is saved automatically and all changes can be tracked. How does it work? Simply create your own work schedule template, fill it out manually, and then share it with your employees in “View only” mode.
More than one manager can edit Google Sheets spreadsheet.
To access Google Sheets, you will first need to create a Gmail account. Don’t forget to notify your employees when you make changes to their shifts. Google Sheets does not send notifications.
Google Sheets works well for teams with several managers.
3. Excel and Facebook
Excel lets you create your employees’ work schedules; Facebook lets you send this information to your team. How does it work? Start by creating your own work schedule template, fill it out manually, and then share it through a Facebook group or private messages.
You’ll need to reshare the schedule whenever you make changes to it.
We suggest using a private Facebook group to centralize your communications. You’ll have to be friends with your employees to invite them to join such a group.
Note that using Facebook in this manner blurs the line between personal life and work.
4. Excel and Dropbox
Dropbox allows you to synchronize files saved on one device with other devices and save everything online. How can this be used for scheduling? Create a Dropbox account, add your own work schedule template, and share the Dropbox file with your employees by email.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to contact your employees individually when you make changes to their schedules.
They’ll have access to their schedule through their personal email or the shared Dropbox URL link. Dropbox cannot be used to communicate if your employees have questions.
Using Dropbox may generate a lot of emails, text messages, or phone calls.
5. Any Free Employee Scheduling App
A quick Google search for the right keywords (e.g., free employee scheduling app) would yield plenty of relevant results. You can even add your industry to the search terms (retail, assisted living, events...) to discover even more specialized tools. Trying out free software is the perfect way of getting a good overview of what's available, at no cost. How does it work? Every scheduling software works differently. Just try out a few to see which one best meets your needs.
Free trials let you quickly test out different features and save money.
Some solutions, such as Agendrix, even allow you to check out most of its advanced features for free
Trying out free apps can be time-consuming but will ultimately show you what works best.
Free Has Its Limits
To be perfectly honest, free solutions will rarely allow you to optimize your scheduling like paid services do. Nevertheless, there’s a plethora of inexpensive and helpful software to choose from. Why not try one? In fact, we just so happen to have one to have one in mind for you. Happy scheduling! 😉