The Best Free Scheduling Software in 2020

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Employee scheduling is a vital yet complex task for companies around the world daily. Business managers end up spending a considerable amount of time scheduling their employees instead of handling more important tasks. Any conflicts or last-minute changes can disrupt the whole process, work quality can take a major blow and more hours could be wasted working out the bugs! Instead of punishing yourself with manual scheduling, why not try free scheduling software?

With so many solutions available on the market, you need to ensure that you are selecting the employee scheduling software that best fits your needs. But before we delve deeper into that, let’s look at why choosing free employee scheduling software is better than the traditional pen and paper method.

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Top Free Employee Scheduling Software

 

Pen and Paper vs. Employee Scheduling Software

For many managers, pen and paper is the easiest option for preparing shift charts and schedules. It’s simple and doesn’t involve learning any new computer programs. This old-fashioned method, though handy, becomes difficult as the business and its many variables grow.

For starters, it is tough to distribute schedules promptly. Hand-written shift charts need to be posted for easy visibility or be distributed to each employee. If there is an error or last-minute change, the whole process of printing and distribution has to be repeated. Talk about cumbersome!

Here’s where employee scheduling software comes into the picture. These hassle-free systems can help businesses save time and money in the long run with no cost of entry.

To the businesses relying on older manual methods, it can appear complex to use these systems at first, and just like other solutions, there will be a learning curve. Until you get used to the ins and outs of the product there will always be a few small hiccups.

But once you surpass the learning curve, the benefits of free scheduling software are immense. Here’s a list of things you can do with an employee scheduling app and up your game:

  • Prepare shift charts quickly to save time: You can set a previously used schedule as a default template and keep on modifying it as per your requirements. Necessary changes like time-off requests and staff availability can be incorporated to create new schedules. This way, you will be saved from the hassle of creating a fresh shift chart every week.
  • Modify schedules instantly: You can quickly make last-minute changes depending on staff availability and the amount of work to be done. It also allows you to make the required modifications instantly.
  • Hassle-free distribution: Online schedules can be shared with all employees with a single click, and new schedules are received as soon as they are finished.
  • Green options: By eliminating the process of printing and distribution, it cuts down massively on the amount of paper used by the businesses.

Even if you opt for a free version or the most basic scheduling software, the above benefits come bundled in. The advanced or industry-specific software options can pack in numerous other modules and functionalities. These benefits make it evident that moving beyond the old-fashioned pen and paper method and opting for free scheduling software is an intelligent business decision.

Top Features

Though the market is flooded with free scheduling software, there are some essential features to look out for when opting for the best free employee scheduling app for your business. The SelectHub analyst team dug through the employee scheduling market and discovered these top features to be sure and look for:

Employee Management

A successful online scheduling tool should facilitate robust employee management by enabling users to store critical staff related information such as qualifications, skills, contact details and more at a centralized location.

Schedule Management

Schedule creation is the key feature of any employee scheduling software meant to save businesses from the old-fashioned pen and paper approach. A good solution can help prepare rosters within minutes based on past shift histories. These tools also facilitate job scheduling, group scheduling, multiple location scheduling and seasonal scheduling capabilities. Shift managers can also add instructions or notes for the staff for enhanced collaboration.

Compliance

An effective scheduling tool helps foster a culture of compliance with HR rules and labor laws. They help users follow guidelines related to meals and other breaks, and it tracks staff overtime, attendance and punctuality

Track Payroll Expenses and Budgets

Your free scheduling software should integrate with your time and attendance solution to enhance payroll calculation. This combination helps users map the clock-in and clock-out hours of their staff to project expected payroll expenses.

Absence Management

A successful scheduling solution should offer robust tools for absence management, tracking vacations, leaves and time-off requests. Users can easily track staff availability while preparing schedules to speed the process up even further.

Reporting and Business Intelligence

Advanced reporting and forecasting features are must-haves when choosing a scheduling solution for your business. Reporting tools can generate different kinds of reports, including employee scheduling reports, labor cost reports, calendar resorts, people reports, shift data reports and financial reports for actionable insights.

Easy Integration

New age employee scheduling tools offer an open API to integrate seamlessly with third-party applications such as Google calendar or Outlook. Businesses can also link their existing POS, time and attendance systems, HRIS or payroll systems with these solutions.

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Top Free Employee Scheduling Software

The SelectHub analyst team researched the top-performing solutions in the market and compiled a list of top five contenders and their standout benefits, features and limitations:

Homebase

Homebase is a cloud-based employee scheduling software that provides solutions for small businesses. It can generate basic labor reports, employee performance reports and other customized analytics.

It simplifies workforce scheduling with drag-and-drop features and can be accessed with a web browser or through mobile devices. Free scheduling software can track the number of hours put in by employees, paid and unpaid breaks and can offer tips on optimizing labor costs.

It comes with a recruiting module that facilitates posting vacancies on job boards and viewing applications from various sources all at one location. The solution can be easily integrated with the existing tools used by the businesses, including POS and payroll software.

Standout Benefits & Features

Homebase offers numerous features and tools. Below are some of its main offerings:

  • Recruiting: The software’s hiring feature allows companies to post vacancies online and can schedule prospective candidates in one place. Job postings can be made available to a large pool of candidates with customizable job posts based on market standards.
  • Integrations and Business Tools: Homebase can be easily integrated with various existing tools used by businesses, including POS and payroll software. The solution allows API access to create customized integrations with other tools.
  • Team Communication App: Its Team Communication Application makes it possible to view schedules and modify them. Communication is possible without sharing personal information or phone numbers.
  • Automatic Scheduling: It allows shift managers to automatically schedule their staff while taking team availability data into account. Its plans do not restrict the number of employees for whom the schedules can be created.
  • Mobile Application: Homebase provides a mobile app to simplify scheduling for both iPhone and Android users on-the-go.
  • Sales Forecasts: It provides sales forecasts for businesses and helps set achievable labor targets while preparing workforce schedules.

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Homebase

Homebase Employee Scheduling

Limitations

No system is without a few faults, here are some pitfalls to be aware of:

  • Since there is just one dropdown option, it does not allow employees to specify the type of time-off they are opting for.
  • The application does not offer any breakdown of tips and wages.
  • Its app doesn’t provide team members to see the breakdown of tips and wages.
  • It does not allow setting a date range to view employee wages. Wages can only be viewed per week or a month.
  • It follows a rigid separation of the departments, making it difficult to schedule universal employees.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

When I Work

When I Work is a cloud-based solution designed for small, medium and large businesses. It offers capabilities such as employee scheduling, time tracking and new applicant tracking.

The time clock and mobile applications facilitate the onboarding of new employees, granting approval to time-off requests, filling shifts and reviewing shift swaps. It helps with team management and brings greater accountability by offering tools to confirm shifts, setting tasks for shifts and teams. Its built-in communication tools facilitate individual and group chats and notify the team of the changes.

Standout Benefits & Features

When I Work contains a suite of powerful tools — here are some of the standouts:

  • Excel Template for Workforce Scheduling: It offers an Excel template to match employees with shift timings, add shifts, track extra hours and forecast labor costs. It manages full shifts, trade shifts, time offs, team tasks and staff availability.
  • Open API: It comes with an open API that facilitates applications to exchange data and interact with When I Work. The solution’s methods follow standard conventions.
  • Security and Scalability: When I Work addresses any security concerns of the businesses by offering them an around-the-clock security audit mechanism that is available 365 days a year. It comes with an architecture that can be scaled up as per the growing needs of an organization.
  • Shift Swapping and Dropping: It offers employee shift trading with other staff members and also enables them to drop shifts in case of an emergency.
  • Applicant Tracking System: It lets the users track every job application and collaborates with the hiring team for the interview process. It also adds the new recruits to the company schedule.

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When I Work

When I Work Employee Scheduling

Limitations

Here are a few shortcomings associated with this system:

  • The free or the basic version only supports employee scheduling up to 75 people.
  • It does not support scheduling employees beyond their shifts or working hours. It also doesn’t support during weekends.
  • It does not provide technical or other forms of support on the phone and can only be contacted by submitting tickets.
  • Team schedules cannot be sorted based on shift timings. Hence the users are unable to see other employees working the same shifts.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

7Shifts

7Shifts provides employee scheduling solutions to the restaurant industry. This cloud-based software offers workforce scheduling, tools for collaboration, task management, workforce management and dashboards.

Its mobile application lets employees post schedules on-the-go. The software’s architecture allows integration with existing systems used by businesses such as POS and payroll software. The trial version of the software is available for 14 days. It also offers live chat, phone and email support.

Standout Benefits & Features

7Shifts offers a robust suite of tools. Here are some major features:

  • REST API: The software’s API is organized around REST — the URLs are resource-oriented and employ HTTP response codes to detect API related errors. The software functions on in-built HTTP features, such as HTTP authentication and verbs, which can be understood by off-the-shelf HTTP clients. Resource sharing is supported cross-origin and it allows secure interaction with its API and web application from the client-side.
  • Labor Saving Calculator: It comes with a labor-saving calculator that can be used to calculate return on investment and offers insightful inputs to manage labor cost, time spent and much more.
  • Labor Compliance: It comes with proactive tools to maintain labor compliance. Users can enforce custom and mandatory breaks and can receive overtime alerts of the staff. The tools help organizations remain compliant to the labor laws of the state and follow scheduling that is secure across different countries.
  • Manager Log Book: It comes with a manager logbook to jot down shift details, daily notes and any follow-up tasks. The default logbook categories it offers track shift activities, and categories can also be customized to track activity metrics.
  • Employee Engagement: Its aggregate statistics track team engagements like late arrivals, sick leaves, no shows or dropped shifts. It can help track each location to let the shift managers identify the most engaged employees and where additional training may be required for increased productivity.

Compare Employee Scheduling Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

7Shifts Employee Scheduling

7Shifts Employee Scheduling

Limitations

Here are some pitfalls to consider:

  • The software’s reporting tools cannot split profit and loss data daily.
  • 7Shifts does not offer a location to enter license, certifications and data of other related items that require renewal.
  • It does not allow publishing schedules monthly and shift charts can be printed weekly.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

OpenSimSim

OpenSimSim is a cloud-based employee scheduling solution that caters to the Food and Beverage industry, Retail industry, Healthcare, Lodging and more.

It offers solutions to schedule workforce, team communication tools, time clock and compliance features. It can also integrate with payroll and POS tools.

Standout Benefits & Features

  • Compliance Tools: Its compliance tools help planning meals and other breaks, restricting overtime, warnings and tracking of certifications. Pay rates can be customized for extra hours and public holidays.
  • Integrations: It allows integration with existing payroll and POS tools used by the businesses.
  • Free Version: OpenSimSim’s’s free version facilitates scheduling for unlimited employees, communication within teams, management of time-off requests, worker availability and more.
  • Mobile App: Its mobile application is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
  • Sales Tips: It provides useful sales insights once the employees complete their shifts to gauge their productivity.

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OpenSimSim Employee Scheduling

OpenSimSim Employee Scheduling

Limitations

  • The app doesn’t allow color customization.
  • Schedules cannot be viewed on a monthly basis.
  • Direct message boards to circulate communication among all the employees throughout the week are absent.
  • It does not allow users to view upcoming time-off requests. All time-off requests are displayed on a single page — whether approved or not.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Sling

Sling is a cloud-based workforce scheduling and communication application that organizes all aspects of work on a single platform.

Sling can be used to build work schedules and manage staff availability, shift trades and time off The software tracks staff attendance and exports timesheets to process salaries. It tracks labor costs and spending according to shifts. It also supports internal communication within teams, including messaging, sharing information and assigning tasks.

Standout Benefits & Features

Sling brings numerous free features to clients, including:

  • Labor Costing: The software supports fixing the wages of the employees individually or as per their designations. It measures labor costs and considers budget information while preparing staff schedules. It sends alerts when businesses save money on labor costs.
  • Supports Scheduling in Multiple Locations: Sling facilitates scheduling employees across multiple locations on a single account, and the schedules can be viewed in one location. Employees can clock-in and clock-out from different locations.
  • Communication: Users can send private or group messages through Sling and can organize conversations based on different teams or projects. It sends new message notifications, and reminders and notices can be posted on an integrated platform.

Compare Employee Scheduling Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

Sling Employee Scheduling

Limitations

Curious users should always pay attention to some of Sling’s limitations:

  • It is tedious to add shifts each month or week. It becomes cumbersome to add or copy multiple schedules of weeks.
  • It requires improved group training.
  • Schedules can only be sent to the whole team and not to individuals.
  • Payroll can’t be operated directly on Sling.
  • It doesn’t enable adding tags or notes to shift specifications and tasks.
Price: N/A
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare Top Employee Scheduling Software Leaders

Conclusion

Finally, we can see that free employee scheduling software can be a helpful transition from cumbersome paper methods. Just because a solution is free, doesn’t mean it can’t serve a purpose. Free scheduling software may not be the best choice for a large enterprise, but for smaller businesses it can usher in professionalism, save time and thereby increase profitability.

How has adopting free scheduling software solutions boosted the efficiency of your business? Let us know with a comment below!

Pragya SinghThe Best Free Scheduling Software in 2020

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