9 min read
Jun 29, 2021

How to Use Self Scheduling to Create Dream Teams at Work

Self scheduling gives your team the freedom to choose when they wish to work and may very well lead to increased productivity. Is your team ready for it?

Ashish UpadhyayContent Writer

In 2021, it’s not too hard to imagine a workplace that doesn’t conform with the regular nine-to-five norm. A survey suggests that “87% of hourly workers consider having control over their work schedules to be extremely important.”

With such growing demands, more and more staff schedulers and managers in IT, healthcare, retail, security, hospitality, and travel are opening up to the idea of hybrid work culture that allows employees to plan how and when they perform their duties.

Among employees with increased expectations from their workplaces, self scheduling is rapidly gaining popularity. Not only does self scheduling enable employees to be more in control of their lives but it also increases their job satisfaction rates.

Depending on the industry, a self-scheduling system, if implemented properly, can significantly improve employee productivity and engagement rates. This guide seeks to help schedulers and managers understand the benefits of self scheduling and provide strategies that can be implemented to create a flexible, agile, and highly productive workforce.

What is self scheduling? How does it work?

Self scheduling is a flexible approach that enables people to choose their shifts or trade them with coworkers if that suits their schedule better.

In the traditional model, managers retain complete control when it comes to assigning shifts to team members. But in self scheduling, managers only assess scheduling needs based on customer footfall or other business requirements, they don’t assign the shifts to anybody. That decision making goes to the team members.

A self-scheduling system trumps traditional scheduling in two ways:

a) It frees up managers’ time, enabling them to prioritize other tasks.

b) It gives more autonomy to team members who can choose to work when they’re at their most productive.

Self-scheduling dashboard in When I Work

Self-scheduling dashboard in When I Work (Source)

A self-scheduling process starts with the manager defining shift requirements for the business, after which notifications are sent to team members. Once notified, team members can have a look at the requirements and then select shifts according to their preferences and expertise. Once they confirm their scheduled shifts, managers are notified of their confirmation.

In case there are any unclaimed shifts, managers can always assign them later on the work calendar based on employee preferences and availability. An automated self-scheduling system also keeps track of the number of hours each employee puts in.

How to implement self scheduling at the workplace?

Self scheduling is a common practice in fast-moving industries such as nursing, retail, and hospitality. That said, self scheduling works differently for different organizations.

how to implement self scheduling at the workplace

1. Survey and consult the employees

Springing unexpected changes into the workplace can backfire quickly. Rather than implementing the process overnight, it’s better to survey the workforce and assess their opinion on self scheduling.

At this stage, managers can explain the benefits of self scheduling to the workforce and highlight key objectives related to efficiency and productivity that can be met once the self scheduling is adopted.

2. Implement the process on a trial basis

While employees might get everything on paper, it's only when they experience the process in real life that they get to understand its challenges and benefits.

Managers can implement self scheduling for the first week on a trial basis or assign one day of the week when self scheduling will take place. This will familiarize the workforce with the new process.

This is a crucial phase that can also serve as the training period.

3. Create a real-time feedback system

During the trial phase, it’s important to collect feedback in real time from the workforce. At this stage, managers should make it clear to their teams to be open with their thoughts on the self-scheduling setup.

Giving feedback should be a smooth and transparent process for the workforce. To achieve that, managers can create a mix of close and open-ended questions. These could range from:

a) Is the new process intuitive and employee-friendly?

b) How much better (or worse) does self scheduling fare against traditional scheduling?

4. Finalize and transition into self scheduling

Once the workforce is comfortable with the setup, it’s time to fully transition into a self-scheduling system. At this point, managers must assess scheduling requirements for their business.

As the workforce adapts to the new work environment, employees can start self assigning shifts based on their preferences. An ideal self-scheduling system even prioritizes real-time communication so that coworkers can trade scheduled shifts without involving the upper management.

While self scheduling eliminates certain managerial tasks, managers should still try and keep an eye out for employees who might try to rig the system.

Benefits of self scheduling

A self-scheduling system can be beneficial for both employees and businesses. Not only does self scheduling boost team morale and create a highly energized workforce, but it also helps cut unnecessary staffing costs. Let’s dive deeper and learn more about the benefits.

1. Enhanced productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction: Everyone has a different time in the day when they’re at their most productive. According to one research, when people are given the freedom to choose their shifts according to their motivation levels, their productivity increases by up to 50%.

Enhanced productivity and engagement directly fuel job satisfaction, resulting in a happier and more energetic workforce.

2. Greater flexibility and work-life balance: Another survey suggests that 54% of employees with flexible work arrangements say they have the emotional support they need to manage stress.

With self scheduling, people enjoy a greater degree of control over their work-life balance. Greater flexibility over work hours also prevents burnout and promotes mental health wellness.

Self scheduling measures also reduce absenteeism. When people are in control of when they work, there are fewer chances of late arrivals or missed shifts.

3. Reduced staffing costs: Self scheduling increases employee turnover that leads to fewer needs to hire new candidates. This helps reduce onboarding and training costs significantly.

4. Reduced routine managerial tasks: Creating schedules for the workforce is a big task for managers that takes up a lot of time. Self scheduling eliminates this, freeing up time for managers to prioritize other tasks and ensuring that employees are using resources efficiently.

With better communication and greater collaboration between coworkers, a  self-scheduling system also eliminates scheduling errors and shift clashes.

Should managers consider implementing self scheduling?

Self scheduling can be the key to increase engagement, productivity, and retention at workplaces. It provides greater autonomy to the workforce while eliminating routine tasks for managers, making it a win-win for everyone.

However, managers should assess the ROI on implementing self scheduling. Before transitioning to the new process, they should ideally have answers to these questions:

a) Do the benefits of self scheduling outweigh the cost of training the workforce on the new process?

b) What would be the ideal metrics to track once self scheduling is implemented?

If there are considerable savings in terms of time and people management once the process is up and running, a more productive and independent workforce is indeed the future.

Want to take on self scheduling to make your workforce more productive than ever? 

Here are the market-leading tools that will get you there.


The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

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