Employee scheduling is a concept that’s been around for hundreds of years in businesses with brick-and-mortar locations and virtual offices alike. Employers understand when they have the most demand (e.g., for restaurant owners, this is typically breakfast, lunch and dinner). They must staff accordingly to maximize revenue. But even today, there are times that companies are still over/understaffed.

With a growing number of Americans working multiple part-time jobs and new work models (e.g., Uber), employees are looking for more ways to gain control over their schedule. On the flip side, employers struggle with turn-over and an increasing number of no shows/call-outs. As American mentality and technology has shifted, we’ve found that traditional scheduling no longer works.

Enter flexible scheduling.

What is flexible scheduling?

For some employees, flexible scheduling is used to describe a non-traditional work week that moves away from the traditional notion of working 9-5. A flexible work schedule has been a perk that many companies are beginning to offer in the corporate world.

In the context of an hourly employee, flexible scheduling is the notion that employees are empowered to pick and choose the shifts that fit in their personal schedule throughout the day and week based on prior work, school or life commitments.

Why would a company chose to switch to flexible scheduling?

  • Save Time – ​Between creating the schedule, managing time-off requests and updating the schedule, scheduling takes many hours each week. With flexible scheduling, owners and operators can simply create the labor schedule that is optimal for their store and empower their employees to opt in to the hours that work best for them.
  • Reduce Churn – ​Offering a flexible schedule to employees increases employee satisfaction while also providing optionality for a workforce that might be juggling other part-time jobs or multiple commitments. For the mom who needs to earn a little bit more money each month to send her daughter on a school trip, rather than leaving her current employer in search for a job paying $0.50 more per hour, she can now easily manage two part-time jobs by having control over when and where she works.
  • Expand Labor Pool​ – Now college students, stay-at-home moms or retirees who might not be able to commit to working 25 hours a week, can more easily earn extra income or spend time working for a brand they love.

How does it work?

  1. Managers create a role-based labor schedule for the week (i.e. Shift #1: 8:00am-2:00pm, 5 Servers, 3 Cooks, 1 Dishwasher; Shift #2: 11:00am-5:00pm, 4 Servers, 2 Cooks, 1 Dishwasher; Shift #3: 5:00pm-9:00pm, 6 Servers, 4 Cooks, 2 Dishwashers).
  2. Managers publicize and distribute the role-based schedule to their pool of employees.
  3. Employees “book” their shifts by notifying the Manager of the shifts they’re able to work (i.e. Shift #3).
  4. Managers distribute the updated schedule so that everyone knows what hours they’ve opted into.
  5. Employees notify the Managers if a change in their schedule has occurred (e.g., a family emergency happened, an exam came up in school, etc.). Managers then notify Team Members that a new shift has become available for them to pick up to make some extra cash.
  6. Another Team Member “books” the shift.

What happens if I need my A+ players to work on Friday nights?

Offering flexible scheduling doesn’t mean that 100% of the schedule needs to be flexible. Companies can provide a 70/30 split, a 50/50 split or any combination thereof – offering 50% of the shifts as flex shifts and 50% as assigned shifts.

How do I offer flexible scheduling with less manual work for me?

There are a host of companies, like ​Forge​ (disclaimer: I founded Forge in an effort to bring workplace flexibility to the 58% of Americans working hourly jobs), that are automating this process. Managers simply invite their Team Members to the platform for specific roles (e.g., Cook) and create their role-based schedule. Forge takes care of distributing the schedule, making sure all shifts are booked and notifying both Team Members and managers of shift changes.


What happens if I don’t have a large enough labor pool for supply/demand to fill all my shifts?
Many companies today use Craigslist or Snagajob to post jobs for hourly employees. On the Forge platform, every company that offers flexible scheduling has access to our talent database where they can search through talent in their area and pro-actively ask individuals to apply to their job openings. They can then hire, train and add more individuals to their labor pool who have access to the schedule through the Forge app.

How do I get started?

If you’re not interested in using software, you can get started by following the 6 step process above. If you want to automate the process, check out ​Forge​.

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