Adjusting schedule on the go: Mobile apps for shift workers

6 min read
Updated: Sep 15, 2019

About 75 million US citizens (around 23% of the country’s population) are hourly workers. Most of them belong to hospitality, retail, healthcare, construction and transportation industries, where someone’s missed shift can lead to a complete halt of the entire working process. The problem isn’t in irresponsibility since employees are just humans who can fall sick, face family issues or cope with 2 jobs at a time to make both ends meet.

It is such emergencies, not reported and taken care of in time, that put restaurants, shops, nursing homes and any other shift-based businesses at a risk. Fortunately, working schedules are no longer designed on paper and pinned to a board. Instead, they are created with smart scheduling software that is cherished by all managers who value their time.

It’s possible to achieve even more convenience and efficiency by making schedules portable, interactive and accessible on mobile devices. Connected to the scheduling software, mobile apps for hourly workers can enable co-scheduling, rescheduling and urgent communication between colleagues. Here is how exactly it can make a company’s life easier.

Cooperative scheduling

Newly drafted schedules can balance the employer’s needs and the employees’ interests just fine, but rearrangements will almost certainly be required.

A mobile app with access to schedules can help with this as employees can mark their preferred working time preferences in advance, so that a manager can consider it all when drafting a schedule. For example, if Carry has a dentist appointment for 10 AM next Tuesday, she can enter this information in her mobile app. The scheduling software will receive Carry’s input and mark a morning shift on that very day as the least possible option.

Effective rescheduling

In case some employees do forget to enter their preferred time in the app beforehand, they can still opt for rescheduling once they see a notification that the weekly or monthly schedule is published. For this, the app can enable a rescheduling request from an employee to a manager. There will be a new notification after their request is satisfied and a new schedule is issued (that is, of course, if rescheduling doesn’t cause the entire staff’s shifts fall down like a house of cards).

Some rescheduling has to be made urgently. In this case, a sick employee can easily notify their employer, so that they would find a substitute in time. Alternatively, if there is very little time to spend on contacting a scheduler, an employee can speed up the process and ask for a shift swap with one of their colleagues.

Convenient 3-way communication

A major advantage of a mobile app for shift workers is that it keeps staff and management informed and connected. A mobile app covers 3 types of communication: employer –> employee (a scheduler contacts an employee, asking them to substitute a sick colleague), employee –> employee (users leave public and private messages discussing shift swaps) and employee –> employer (employee informs about an emergency situation or asks for rescheduling).

It may seem like a single phone call could sort it all out. However, while discussing schedule rearrangements, it is important for both parties to see the whole picture and literally have it in front of their eyes. Exchanging messages right in a mobile app, where the situation is laid out and can be adjusted on the fly, will spawn more favorable decisions. Besides, with a mobile app employees can promptly respond to any changes in their schedule, even when it is inconvenient for them to take or make a call.

It also gets convenient to manipulate shifts when there are 2 or more requests for rescheduling. Instead of making a multi-user audio conference to discuss each employee’s preferences and frantically adjust them to the company’s needs, a manager can trigger rescheduling based on the requests received. A new version of the schedule is then sent out to the employees for confirmation, and only after all the involved parties agree on it, the schedule is officially updated.

Tracking down employees’ productive biorhythms

Apart from helping managers draw a favorable schedule fast and easily, intelligent scheduling software contributes to productivity at work. Fatigue Science and their Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) took the idea of smart scheduling even further, identifying fatigue risk, predicting performance quality and offering preferable shift regimes. By now their technologies are mostly used for jobs such as pilots, astronauts and switchboard operators that require a high level of concentration.

But even before similar functionality becomes available for regular scheduling solutions, you can find a way to create more effective schedules by implementing a feedback feature in your mobile app. With employees rating each of their shifts in terms of efficiency and satisfaction, a scheduler can track down their most productive regimes and draft better schedules based on such valuable first-hand data.

Addressing controversy

Despite all the advantages of the features mentioned above, including up to 99% of working hours being correctly assigned, fulfilled and paid, the concept met some criticism from US officials. In 2015, a bill regarding certain regulations of scheduling software was even introduced to the Congress.

The point was that scheduling software leaves space for violating the laws of minimum hours per shift, which can result in underpayment and insurance subscription fraud. Legally, an employer has to provide healthcare insurance to employees who work 30+ hours per week. For that matter, they can intentionally manipulate the number of working hours in the employees’ schedule, so that they wouldn’t amount to 30. Thus, an employer won’t have to pay for the insurance and will avoid the risk of a $2,000 penalty charge.

Scheduling software vendors and experts in mobile development showed their understanding of the concern and faced the issue upfront. To address this controversy, mobile experts offered to include a new ‘threshold system’ feature. Being a part of a mobile app and containing authorized data about each employee’s weekly hour-quota, it controls hour distribution and automatically notifies both a manager and an employee in case of any inconsistencies.

Note – This is a sponsored post published by noeticsophia on behalf of the Author Tatiana Lebedzeva, Business Analyst at ScienceSoft.


Sophia Rodreguaze


Sophia is the contributing editor at She writes about anything and everything related to technology.

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