How To Make a Work Schedule
9 min read
Apr 22, 2021

7 Steps to Create the Perfect Work Schedule for Your Team

The perfect work schedule not only accommodates all jobs but also helps you prepare for any emergencies. Here’s how to create one.

Harshit Srivastava Sr. Content Analyst

As a manager, you are responsible for business goals as well as team morale. You need to manage the team’s personal and professional issues, handle emergencies, and work hard toward helping them achieve their goals. And you have a schedule to help you do that.

But no matter how well you plan your schedule, things don’t always go accordingly. There are emergencies that divert your resources, unplanned leaves that stretch deadlines, or overscheduling that hurts employee morale. Finally, when your work deviates from the schedule, you end up losing control of your team operations.

A work schedule that takes into account the uncertainties not only improves compliance but also boosts the productivity of your entire team.

In this article, we’ve outlined an approach to help you make the perfect work schedule. These steps will help you create a work schedule that not only gives you a clear idea of your resources but is also something that you can stick to. We’ll also share some tools that’ll help you plan and execute your schedule efficiently.

Why work schedules fail

Work schedules fail for a variety of reasons, ranging from factors you can control to the ones you can’t.

Unexpected leaves and emergencies: Emergencies can occur in many forms. Your colleagues may fall sick, have some urgent personal matters to attend to, or feel burnt-out and need time off to cope with the stress. Or some big clients may demand project changes that need immediate prioritization. Such emergencies may require you to divert team members from their current tasks. And unless you prepare backups, emergencies, and unexpected time off requests will throw you off the schedule.

Double scheduling: If you don’t plan your schedule carefully, you may end up assigning two different tasks simultaneously to the same team member. This employee scheduling error can compromise your schedule as you’ll need to delay tasks or pool in resources from the other tasks. Using a project management tool that alerts you to double bookings can help you avoid this issue.

Overscheduling: At times, you may end up burdening some team members with more work than others. This will cause employee burnout and reduce work efficiency. A good work schedule should, therefore, balance the workload between team members equally.

How to make a work schedule

While 100% compliance with a work schedule is almost impossible, you can still create one that lets you manage resources effectively, especially during crises. The following steps will help you create the perfect work schedule:

7 Steps to Create the Perfect Work Schedule for Your Team

1. List the strengths and weaknesses of each team member

A team is a group of people with different skills working toward a common goal. And as a manager, you need to be aware of the areas where each of your team members excel and what a person lacks. This knowledge of strengths and weaknesses will help you set up well-rounded project teams by pairing members with different skills to complement one another.

Start by creating a list of skills that are needed for each job or the ones that each person possesses. These could include customer interactions, data analysis, reporting, and so on.

Employee NameStrengthsWeaknesses
AmandaData analysis, client presentation, report writingUX design
JamesUX design, data analysisClient presentation, collaboration
RobertSales, client presentationReport writing
WilliamCollaboration, report writingData analysis
ThomasData analysis, UX designClient presentation

2. Allocate jobs to the most appropriate team members

The table above will ease the scheduling process by helping you find the right staff member for each task in a project. Instead of relying on gut feelings, you’ll have a more factual basis for assigning tasks. The following steps will help you:

  • Analyze the skills needed for each project

  • Use the table to identify team members who are a) proficient in each of the skills required for the project b) available to work during that period

  • Schedule tasks to team members based on their expected contributions to the project

  • Ensure all the critical and high-priority tasks are assigned to the most prudent team members

3. Identify potential backups

Emergencies come unannounced. Maybe your team member is unwell and unable to work or there is an emergency in another project and you need your star performer for crisis management. Whatever the case may be, your well-planned schedule could go for a toss.

For this reason, it’s important to plan resource backups well in advance. With backup employees to take over tasks in case of emergencies, you’ll be able to manage crises more effectively.

There are two approaches for backups: you could either have a part-time or shift worker to fill in during these situations or you could earmark employees on non-critical tasks as backups.

4. For critical assignments, prepare a backup for your backup 

No matter how well you plan, some things may still go wrong: Plan B could fail as well! In these situations, a smart manager is the one who has a viable plan C, especially for the critical assignments.

In other words, you’ll need to go one level deeper. For each critical task, you should prepare two backups. This way you add an extra layer of safety for all the critical business tasks.

5. Share the schedule with your team well in advance

Employees are usually curious about their tasks each time a work schedule is finalized. They use these charts as an opportunity to not only plan their work but also their personal lives and vacations.

For this reason, you should give your team members enough time to go through their work schedules and plan their work. With early schedules, they will be able to proactively postpone personal commitments conflicting with critical assignments, trade shifts with their colleagues, or request you to reassign assignments conflicting with important personal commitments.

6. Create availability charts for all your team members

At times, team members won’t be able to find colleagues to switch their shifts with. In this situation, it’s your responsibility to find the right substitute for the job.

Availability charts indicate the work assignments of each of your team members, indicating the hours in a working day they are occupied and free. With these charts, you can identify resources that are available during any time period and find the right team member to assign as a substitute.

You can also use the availability chart to calculate the number of hours each resource is working every week. With this, you’ll be able to proactively transfer workload in case a member is too occupied, thus minimizing burnouts.

7. Analyze previous schedules to identify areas of improvement

Making the perfect work schedule is not a one-time job. You’ll fail over and over again till you perfect the art of making schedules.

Analyzing previous schedules can help you identify mistakes and determine how to plan future schedules. You can learn about the behavioral patterns of your team members and customize schedules that align with their expectations.

Analyzing previous schedules is easy. You simply need to list the most significant changes you’ve had to make, understand the reasons behind those changes, and figure out improvements you’ll have to make to ensure better compliance with the schedule.

Next steps: Use the right tool for making work schedules

If you’ve tried removing a wine cork without a corkscrew, you know the importance of having the right tool for the job. While you could do things manually, tools make any job much easier.

You can use a spreadsheet or an employee schedule template to create work schedules but software solutions make the process a whole lot easier and more efficient. Below are some software solutions you can use:

Employee scheduling software: Allows you to create and manage employee schedules. While this tool is primarily for employee scheduling, some software solutions also offer task scheduling, which helps you create, distribute, and modify task assignments.

Professional services automation software: Enables you to manage schedules and work allocations for the services you offer.

Field service management software: Helps you assign jobs to field technicians, track their real-time location, and check the real-time availability of resources to handle any ad-hoc requests.

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