Upgrade Your Employee Scheduling: 3 Free Scheduling Options To Consider

In this article, you’ll explore three modern methods to schedule your employees—Google Calendar, WhatsApp, and online scheduling tools, including the versatile app, When I Work. Delve into the step-by-step processes, benefits, and potential disadvantages of each, and learn how these tools can transform the task of employee scheduling from a tedious chore into an efficient and streamlined process.

Key takeaways:

  • Google Calendar provides a free, straightforward solution for scheduling a small staff but may become cumbersome for larger teams.
  • WhatsApp, while not a direct scheduling tool, can serve as an effective communication platform for sharing schedules through links or images.
  • Online employee scheduling tools offer robust capabilities and can significantly reduce the time spent on scheduling tasks.
  • The When I Work app integrates scheduling, time tracking, and employee communication, offering a comprehensive solution for your business.
  • Shifting from traditional scheduling methods to digital tools can increase productivity and save time, outweighing the minor cost involved.

If you run or manage a business that employs hourly workers, you no doubt are using something for scheduling and coordination. For many, the answer is either pen and paper or a spreadsheet. That said, there are some great ways you can leverage free apps and schedule maker services to step up your scheduling game and graduate from pen and paper or spreadsheets. While they all have their pros and cons, here are three free ways to schedule employees that you may find helpful.

Start your free 14-day trial of When I Work! Click here to start scheduling your employees today.

3 free employee scheduling options for you to consider

1. Google Calendar employee scheduling

Steps to set up Google Calendar scheduling: 

  • Open Google Calendar and create a new calendar for your employee schedule.
  • Choose a color for your employee schedule calendar so it is easily distinguishable from your other calendars.
  • Create a new event on the calendar for each employee’s shift, selecting the appropriate start and end times.
  • In the event details, include the employee’s name or initials in the title of the event. You can also add any additional notes or details about the shift in the description field.
  • If you have multiple employees working the same shift, you can create a recurring event for that shift.
  • Repeat this process for each employee and each shift, making sure to include all necessary details.
  • You can also add reminders or notifications for each shift to ensure your employees are notified in advance.
  • Once your employee schedule is complete, share it with your team by adding them as guests to the calendar or by sending them a link to the calendar.
  • Your employees can then view the schedule on their own Google Calendar or on a shared calendar.

Benefits of Google Calendar employee scheduling:

  • Best for very small, limited staff
  • Employees can see the most current schedule when they check the calendar
  • Google Calendar is free

Disadvantages of Google Calendar employee scheduling:

  • There’s no reliable communication function
  • It’s difficult to schedule more than a few people
  • It can be tedious to set up and manage 

Related read: Tech Tools All Managers Need

2. WhatsApp

This one is interesting and is more of a schedule communication tool than an actual scheduling tool. WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. So before we get into using WhatsApp, first pick your favorite employee scheduling tool—pen and paper, spreadsheets, When I Work, Google Calendar, etc. The biggest challenge with this method is that all your employees need a smartphone running WhatsApp. However, once they are all using it you can quickly and easily message them work schedule related information in the form of links or photos.

If you use a spreadsheet, you might put that file on Dropbox and then send the link to your staff using WhatsApp. If you use pen and paper, you might take a picture of the schedule and send the pic using WhatsApp. This may sound a little ad-hoc, but when you’re looking for free scheduling and communication tools, you need to get creative. The upside with this approach is instant communication; the downside is communicating schedule changes and requiring everyone to have a smartphone. Simple (or dumb) phones just won’t work.

Related read: Free Weekly Work Schedule Template

3. Online employee scheduling tools

Google “employee scheduling software” and you’ll be 90% of the way there. If you’re a developer-savvy individual, there are some free open source scheduling tools that you could install and configure.

These would be self-hosted solutions that might be more than you want to tackle, but they’re out there. Do a search on GitHub or SourceForge for “employee scheduler” and you’ll find a couple. There are also some employee scheduling apps in the app stores that are free to download and have free trials to get started. Just do a search in the Play Store or App Store for “employee scheduling” or “work schedule maker” and you’ll find a few.

So as you can see there are a few options out there. Some require bending to make work—but if you have the extra time to finesse technology to work the way you want, they can be a very economical approach. 

Of course, if you’re looking for a turnkey employee scheduling tool, then you will likely have to pony up a few dollars a month. But if you choose the right one, you’ll likely end up saving so much time that it will pay for itself in the first week!

Related read: 11 Best Employee Schedule Maker Tools

Or, try When I Work employee scheduling software 

When I Work lets you build the schedule in minutes, and share it instantly with your team. You’ll save hours each week, so you can focus on other important aspects of your business. When I Work also includes time tracking and employee communication all within the same platform, so you know that every employee has what they need to be successful at work. You can take advantage of great features like:

  • Shift swapping and dropping—let your employees find their own coverage when they need a change to the schedule.
  • Payroll integrations—Use time tracking for faster payroll processing with your favorite provider.
  • Instant communication—send messages to your employees one on one, in groups, or to the whole team, and know who’s seen your message.

Invest in employee scheduling software to streamline your workflow

If you’re using pen and paper or spreadsheets to schedule your employees because you think you’re saving money, think about how much your time costs. Spending a little each month to use a scheduling software like When I Work will give you hours back in your week with faster scheduling, easier time tracking, and better employee communication.

You can make scheduling easier on yourself, and better for your employees. Use flexible self scheduling, which employees love, to let your team choose the shifts that work best for them. You’ll save time, get better shift coverage, and make your employees happier. You’ll also have access to more data to get better at shift planning, which can help increase your bottom line. All of this, and more, is built into When I Work. 

Try When I Work for free! Start your 14-day trial now. 

Employee Scheduling Software by When I Work

FAQs: Google Calendar for employee scheduling

Q: How do I use Google Calendar for employee scheduling?

A: To use Google Calendar for employee scheduling, first, create a new calendar dedicated to your employee schedule. You can then create new events for each shift with the correct start and end times and include the employee’s name in the event title. For multiple employees working the same shift, create a recurring event. When the schedule is complete, share it with your team by adding them as guests to the calendar or sending them a link to it.

Q: What are the benefits of using Google Calendar for employee scheduling?

A: Google Calendar is free and easy to use, making it a good choice for small businesses. The platform allows for real-time updates, so employees can always access the most current schedule. It’s also simple to share with your team, as you can either add them as guests or send them a direct link to the calendar.

Q: What are the disadvantages of using Google Calendar for employee scheduling?

A: While Google Calendar is convenient, it lacks a reliable communication function for discussions related to the schedule. Additionally, it can be tedious and time-consuming to set up, especially if you’re scheduling more than a few people. Finally, Google Calendar lacks more sophisticated scheduling features found in dedicated employee scheduling software.

Q: Can I send reminders or notifications for each shift using Google Calendar?

A: Yes, Google Calendar allows you to add reminders or notifications for each shift. This ensures that your employees are notified in advance of their upcoming shifts, reducing the chance of missed or forgotten shifts.

Q: Is Google Calendar suitable for large teams?

A: While you can use Google Calendar for large teams, it may become tedious and time-consuming to manage as the number of employees increases. In such cases, a more dedicated employee scheduling tool might be a more efficient option.

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