As the business landscape evolves, largely due to rapid globalization and the technological boom of the 21st century, organizations can see that the traditional, one-size-fits-all method of managing and scheduling a workforce is no longer enough. It’s increasingly common to find a company with 100+ employees with no office spaces or ‘set’ working hours. Though this flexibility has great advantages, it does bring along with it a new challenge: scheduling the modern workforce.
As companies innovate and experiment with new ways to schedule their mobile, fixed-location, or blended workforce, we see new types of schedules emerge. And it’s no wonder why businesses are searching for the right scheduling fit for their employees—lax or inadequate scheduling can have dire effects on efficiency, productivity, and employee and customer satisfaction.
The Importance of Choosing The Right Type of Schedule
Optimizing operations and output can only be done by choosing the type of schedule that best corresponds to the needs of your employees, customers, and business objectives.
There are several important reasons to think carefully about the schedule you adopt for your mobile workforce:
- Improved employee experience and engagement – When employees have clarity and unhindered visibility of their working hours and workload, they gain peace of mind. Organizations that use the right type of schedule can better engage and empower their employees by providing them with the tools and work assignments they need to be successful, creating a better overall experience for workers. A well-organized and strategically scheduled workforce creates a better employee experience, and companies with high levels of employee engagement are 21% more profitable on average.
- Proper matching of employees and jobs – Employees who operate within suitable roles demonstrate high performance, are more satisfied, and are better equipped to serve customers. But matching employees based on skill set, location, and preference can be a difficult, labor- and time-intensive task—and one that can easily be riddled with mistakes, especially when staff schedulers are juggling the schedules of both mobile and fixed-location workers. With the proper type of schedule, employees are sent to the right job based on those requirements every time, saving their organization valuable time and, in turn, money. Customers are met by employees who can get the job done on time, the first time.
- Reduced burnout – Stress is a huge productivity killer. Increased stress can decrease the output of employees drastically and even lead to high turnover rates, which brings about higher recruiting and onboarding costs. A suitable schedule reduces the stress of both staff schedulers and employees. Deskless workers know when they will work, have the ability to plan their workloads, and can adapt to a schedule that suits both them and their company.
- Better-prepared mobile workers – Scheduling a broad and varied workforce certainly presents some complexities, but one of the biggest challenges is aligning the personnel to work in tandem and produce quality work in a timely manner. By choosing the right schedule, you can achieve that balance and be able to call on prepared employees, rather than just waiting for a response or scheduling haphazardly. An employee will know when they are expected to answer, deliver, travel to a job site, or complete any other task. Having a well-oiled machine that operates on the right schedule can vastly affect your ability to meet (or exceed) customer expectations.
- Deeper insights into resources – Once you have the right type of schedule in place, you’ll gain visibility into the availability of your resources, workflow, gaps in your process, and any strengths on which you can capitalize. These valuable insights enable you to cut unwarranted costs and fully utilize your workers’ time and talents, and create a solid plan for growth and greater profitability.
13 Types of Employee Schedules for a Mobile & Blended Workforce
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13 Types of Employee Schedules for a Mobile & Blended Workforce
There is no best type of schedule, but there is the best type of schedule for your unique workforce. Here are 13 types of schedules that are used for a wide variety of workforces:
1. Standard Schedules
The vast majority of companies used a “standard” work schedule in the past, particularly in desk-based workplaces. More commonly referred to as the 9-to-5 work schedule, it has a set amount of days and hours that employees work through every week. Standard schedules are normally set in stone and don’t change, which makes it easy for managers to keep track of attendance and capacity. This type of schedule may work for a marketing organization, a software sales business, or financial advisors.
✅ Key benefit: Simple, straightforward, easy resource planning
❌ Key challenge: Doesn’t work for companies that need round-the-clock coverage
2. Fixed Schedules
Similar to standard schedules, fixed schedules set certain days and times for employees to work within. Those times may not be the standard 9-to-5, but instead, any hours (or days) within the week.
Fixed schedules set working hours on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and due to their simplistic nature, the same template can be used over time and again. A fixed schedule gives employees the clarity they need to plan ahead and give organizations great visibility over their resources and labor costs. Fixed schedules are often a favorite among businesses who offer 24/7 residential, troubleshooting, or logistics services.
✅ Key benefit: Great for companies who deliver services both during and outside of the 9-to-5 day
❌ Key challenge: Doesn’t work for businesses that may require employees to work at a moment’s notice
3. Full-time Schedules
Full-time schedules are mainly concerned with a set amount of working hours per week. The most common is 40 working hours—usually 5 days of 8 working hours each, but full-time schedules could be 4 days a week with 10 hours a day, 6 days a week with 6.5 hours a day, or another combination. Full-time schedules are focused on the total number of hours rather than the distribution of those hours.
Full-time schedules make it easy for management to plan and control the availability of the workforce, but it does have the downside of minimizing schedulers’ ability to get the odd few extra hours from employees (unless they are willing to pay overtime). This becomes more difficult during hectic times like the holiday season in retail, when the workload increases but does not justify a new hire. Full-time schedules are common among warehouse operators, realtors, and retailers.
✅ Key benefit: Easy for capacity planning and understanding availability
❌ Key challenge: Requires overtime pay for extra hours worked
4. Part-Time Schedules
Part-time schedules, much like full-time schedules, are focused on a certain amount of working hours per week. The key difference is that part-time work schedules have a lower threshold of working hours, as an employee may work only 16-20 hours per week, or work just a couple of days per week.
Part-time schedules are very popular among working students or people with personal commitments, and you’ll find some sectors, such as retail or customer service, take advantage of this type of schedule. Other sectors, such as manufacturing or medical institutes, may find it more difficult to effectively operate on part-time schedules, as they rely on highly specialized employees who are not as interested in part-time work, or whose roles are not easily filled.
✅ Key benefit: Often gives managers a larger selection of employees to choose from
❌ Key challenge: Can complicate scheduling since so many individuals with different availability are involved
5. Shift Schedules
Shift schedules are quite common, especially in businesses that operate 24 hours a day, such as hospitals, fast food restaurants, or transportation services. Shift- and roster-based schedules usually break down the working day into three or four shifts depending on the need; you’ll normally find an early shift (e.g. 8 am – 4 pm), a late shift (e.g. 4 pm -12 am), and a night shift (e.g. 12 am – 8 am).
Shift schedules give employees, like technicians or in-home healthcare providers, a chance for stability, while also ensuring you’re meeting customer needs. Switching shifts between employees is common and gives them more flexibility, while companies get full coverage for customers, creating a win-win situation.
✅ Key benefit: Great for businesses who operate outside of ‘regular’ business hours
❌ Key challenge: Can be challenging to schedule less ‘ideal’ shift times
6. Freelance Schedules
Freelance schedules are quite new compared to more traditional schedule types. A freelance or contracted employee is given a deadline to deliver a task without any set working hours.
Freelancing schedules are highly beneficial for employees who want more autonomy and are able to manage their time efficiently, like independent contractors. Freelancers are not technically employees, so companies also save on other costs such as health insurance or Social Security contributions, with savings sometimes even reaching 30%.
✅ Key benefit: Compensate employees only on work delivered, rather than time spent
❌ Key challenge: Requires a high level of trust and far less control over employees’ time
7. Unpredictable Schedules
Unpredictable schedules follow no set pattern and can change on a weekly basis. This hectic nature means employees will struggle to plan their personal lives, while companies have to create a schedule from scratch each day or week.
This schedule is not common among companies and is usually used as a temporary measure in extreme cases, such as a mass employee exodus or a pandemic. Some states in the U.S. have laws banning this type of schedule due to its negative impact on employees.
✅ Key benefit: Works in a pinch or for businesses with limited ability to plan ahead
❌ Key challenge: Doesn’t allow for accurate capacity planning
8. Seasonal Schedules
Seasonal schedules are used by businesses that open for a limited time of the year or for those that require an additional workforce during specific seasons (i.e. the holidays in retail, or summer for travel and hospitality).
✅ Key benefit: Great way to fill a gap during a busy time without the cost of hiring and training a full-time employee
❌ Key challenge: Relying on temporary workers creates a hiring, training, scheduling, and quality control burden each season
9. Alternate Schedules
Alternate schedules are usually temporary schedules that apply when an employee has a certain need that requires accommodation. These schedules are used to fill the gap, either days or working hours, left empty by that employee. Maternity coverage, medical issues, and extended training programs are some common examples of instances that require an alternate schedule.
✅ Key benefit: Ensures coverage and delivery of products/services during irregular circumstances
❌ Key challenge: Can be cumbersome when used for capacity planning over longer periods of time
10. Rotating Schedules
Rotating schedules are normally used in tandem with shift schedules. Organizations such as hospitals or public services (i.e. police, maintenance, etc.) have the need to implement this schedule for their workforce.
Rotating schedules keep shifting shifts from one week to another, as an employee can work the early shift one week and the late shift the next. These schedules can provide some variation, especially for employees who do not want to be on a certain shift indefinitely. But these schedules can have a negative effect on employees for the same reason as unpredictable schedules: the changes from week to week make it hard to plan activities and family outings outside of work hours, which can lead to disengagement or burnout.
✅ Key benefit: Ensures coverage and delivery of products/services during irregular circumstances, allows for variation in shift patterns
❌ Key challenge: Can lead to unbalanced workloads, which are difficult to resolve and manage
11. Split Schedules
Split schedules allow employees to work a certain amount of hours, leave for some time, and come back to continue their work. For example, an employee can work 9-12, leave for 3 hours, and come back to continue their work later in the day.
These schedules can be tiresome for employees, and many states in the U.S. have even set regulations on how they should be used. Sometimes, however, they give the employee an important window of time in which they can complete a personal task, like picking up their children from school or attending continuing educational courses.
✅ Key benefit: Ensures coverage during peak business hours while offering flexibility for employees’ personal situations
❌ Key challenge: Difficult to keep up with properly and manage fluctuating schedules
12. On-call Schedules
On-call schedules are used when an employer requires an employee to work at a moment’s notice to conduct work. This is quite common in the healthcare industry, as doctors usually have an on-call day during the week in which they are allowed to be elsewhere, as long as they are ready to respond to a potential shift at a moment’s notice. This schedule can be used in tandem with rotating schedules to ensure that in the case of an emergency, an employee can be called in quickly to handle it. You’ll rarely find this schedule in offices, but you can find doctors, IT specialists, and technicians working on this schedule.
✅ Key benefit: Great for healthcare or IT teams that need round-the-clock coverage but can’t predict exact resource needs for a certain specialty service
❌ Key challenge: Unpredictable for employees, which can lead to burnout and unnecessary turnover costs
13. Overtime Schedules
Overtime schedules are used when employees exceed full-time working hours. This may be common in industries where there is a big push to get something done on time, like release time for video game developers or tax season for accountants. Overtime hours usually come with a higher pay per hour (1.25 or 1.5 ratios, for example), but prolonged overtime can lead to employee burnout.
✅ Key benefit: Ensures product or service delivery during big projects or hectic seasons
❌ Key challenge: Excess costs that aren’t sustainable longer-term
How The Right Scheduling Software Can Help
Using robust scheduling software can greatly improve your workforce output, allow you to deliver consistent value to your customers, and give you the peace of mind to grow your business. Here are some of the top advantages of implementing the right scheduling software:
Intelligent Job Matching
By using scheduling software with automated job matching, you can easily match employees to roles through a data-driven and objective process. The software aligns job requirements along with the best-fitting schedule for employees, allowing you to maximize their output, increase employee engagement, and avoid employee burnout.
With scheduling software that includes both desktop and mobile access, you can centralize communication and align goals without missing a beat. Employees will have a platform for enhanced communication in their pockets, enabling them to connect with coworkers, schedulers, and customers in real time. This will decrease the time spent checking multiple apps (like email, phone calls, and text messages) and ensures that communication is streamlined and clear.
A strong scheduling solution uses automation to ease the burden of (or eliminate entirely) manual scheduling processes. Instead of spending hours manually creating schedules based on assumptions, which can lead to mistakes and burnout, automated scheduling software securely uses your company data to create schedules that fit your mobile workers’ skill sets and the level of demand for your services, every time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has and will continue to improve scheduling, as well. AI scheduling technologies can create effective schedules with a single click, saving valuable time and effort and giving your teams the ability to focus on more important tasks. With intelligent matching as the basis of your AI-based scheduling system, you can improve the customer experience by equipping your employees with real-time maps to arrive on time and appointment details to get the job done right.
Integration with Existing Systems
A strong scheduling solution will integrate with the other software you already have to create a centralized hub for control and access to information. A scheduling solution can be linked to your HR platform, finance solutions, project management solutions, employee KPIs, and more. This provides back office and deskless workers with total synchronization and the ability to access real-time information about customers, inventory, and your mobile workforce, even in the field.
Implement The Right Schedules with Ease
The right scheduling methodology for your unique workforce, coupled with a strong scheduling solution, is essential for maximizing the output of your workforce. The right scheduling software can enable your organization to increase employee satisfaction, cut unnecessary costs, and overcome the obstacles associated with scheduling mobile and blended workforces.
Skedulo’s intelligent scheduling software eliminates the need for manual processes and enables you to easily match deskless workers to the right jobs, gain deep insights into resources, and communicate seamlessly across your entire deskless workforce. Learn more about how Skedulo can simplify your scheduling process, or book a demo today.