Shift Scheduling Software is a must-have for the Holiday Season

This article is about #shift #scheduling #software such as #ShedWool (https://www.shedwool.com), and how it can help shift #workers feel a little more jolly and in the spirit of “Peace on Earth, Good Will to (Wo)men”.

Looking Halloween down the barrel, it’s evident that the holiday season is upon us. Soon the banks and grocery stores will be playing ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Silent Night’ muzak on heavy rotation, municipalities will hang lights and stocking on the streetlight poles, and malls will be brought back to life, as if it were still 2004.

If you work in, or have ever worked in, shift work — retail, hospitality, security — you dread this time, and already can’t wait for it to be over. The customers get a little more impatient and condescending. Lines get a little longer. Prices seem to go up on everything. ’Tis the season, but for millions of shift workers, it’s hard to actually get in ‘the spirit’. One of the worst things about shift work in general — one that’s exacerbated by the holiday shenanigans — is dealing with a frustratingly unstable and constantly changing work schedule. This will continue to be a problem for many more seasons to come, but shift scheduling software is a great way to make it a little easier and smoother, and as the solutions get smarter and more intuitive, their ability to help minimize the frustrations increase.

The “clopen” (close the place day one night, to return bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to open it the next morning) are a crime against humanity, and typically are the result of someone calling in “sick” (cough, cough), quitting (in retail it’s often a walk-out), or the management not having a good finger on the pulse of business. Companies are reluctant to hire and train enough help, and the burden is almost always absorbed by the poor employees. Virtually no one knows what their schedule will be the next week, or two weeks out, making it hard to plan to spend time with friends and family for your holiday of choice, and, even worse, are often “on-call” so they don’t even know if they will be available or not, missing out on many fun familial activities, and crashing others. As a former restaurant worker of nearly 20 years, I can honestly say that I was able to spend less than 5 Thanksgivings, Christmas Eves, or New Years Eves with friends of family from around 2000 until late 2016 when I finally left the hospitality industry to create an app that helped schedule shift workers online, at a price that more than the “big guys” could afford. I spent both Christmas and New Years Eve with my wife, dogs, and select friends (“chosen family”) this past season, and it was AMAZING. The lies I’d told myself for years about it not being that bad, and that I wasn’t missing much, were complete and utter baloney.

HOW DOES SHIFT SCHEDULING SOFTWARE / APPS MAKE LIFE SO MUCH BETTER FOR SHIFT WORKERS?

If you’re asking, you’ve likely never worked as a shift worker or had any friends that do, and have also probably never used an online scheduling solution.

The short answer is that seeing when you work as soon as possible (and relooking at will, or as memory mandates), being able to request time off when needed, get shifts covered as needed, and to be able to pick up other coworkers shifts when they need (to help them out, for sure, but also to make that holiday dough too!), and plan your life accordingly is literally everything when you’re a shift worker. During the holidays, knowing that next Thursday is your day off, or being able to request off January 2nd because you know it will be slow, that you will be “sick”, and that your significant other can request it off too is amazing. Getting shifts covered, or being able to pick up more shifts, is equally important and awesome. Most shift scheduling solutions have a messaging component as well, which is great if you don’t want to be Facebook friends with all your coworkers, or give that creepy floor manager your cell number.

Additional benefits of many scheduling platforms include time tracking, spiffs, shift notes, and both sales and communication tools that can help you optimize your time both at and away from work.

On-call shifts are possibly the most frustrating element of shift work. Waking up in the morning (or early afternoon) not knowing if you’re working that evening is not a pain — it’s a bonafide nightmare. Inevitably you are always called in when you don’t want to be, and are never called in when you actually want to work (unless you expect it, in which case: Wild Card!! “It” can actually read your heart, and discern which you really wanted, make it seem like you may actually get your wish, and then dash your hopes and dreams at the very last minute -works every time). With all the machine learning, algorithms, and artificial intelligence in the world, you’d think software solutions would actually be able to help predict and automate as much as that as possible. Well, it’s still effectively science fiction, but ShedWool and several other companies are racing to release our solutions to this problem — and it will be a game changer. Data regarding who actually wants to work, how many workers will be needed (due to weather, pedestrian traffic, events and much more), cross-referencing to months and years past, and many more components will be aggregated and leveraged to make intelligent recommendations, and automatically alert prospective workers as soon as possible. Sometimes those extra two hours of knowing you’re off that day can make a monumental difference. We are so excited about developing this functionality that we’re even building in voice technology, so that Alexa gets the privilege and pleasure to proclaim to you “You’re Off today, stud!” (or whatever you have her calling you).

We hold the truth that scheduling software makes shift workers and their managers lives better to be self-evident, and are excited to be releasing our app updates this week, and to begin rolling out new features and functionality soon, such as in-app clock in/out, staff bulletin board, and much more. We have a lot of competitors in our space, and really like and respect what many of them are doing, and the changes that we see in our industry. We don’t need to be the only software company scheduling all the worlds shift workers (would be nice, though!), but we do want to see all the world’s shift workers have access to great and affordable shift scheduling software, after living life as a shift worker both with and without access to it ourselves for very many years.

In summation — happy holidays! If you are a shift worker, may you have the opportunity to have a few days off to enjoy with friends and family (or even just yourself), and may your bosses all give you turkey, great sections, or at least treat you with kindness and respect. If you’re not, please know that the person ringing you up for your foot massager gift, taking your lunch order, or answering your customer service call about how your package was supposed to arrive tomorrow and still isn’t here yet, may be going through some stuff, and that they may not be as awful as their demeanor or current disposition may suggest. If you’re feeling the holiday spirit and want to fill them with good cheer, maybe mention ShedWool. We get it, after all, and have made it our life mission to make their lives a little better. And our base platform is totally free (not just a trial, or bait-and-switch), so they’ve got nothing to lose. If they ask about the name (and they will), just tell them it’s a play on the word and spelling of ‘schedule’, and then wink and say “Check your ShedWool”. They’ll get it, and maybe even chuckle. And then cringe as they are reminded that “on the third day of Christmas, the singer’s true love brought to them…”

Thanks for reading this article, and for being awesome (I’m a pretty good judge of character, and totally get that read off of you). ShedWool is active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn — we’d love to hear from you! Or just leave a comment response here — hit “submit” with positive feedback, and “cancel” with negative — just so it knows where to post it. Cheers!