When creating a work schedule, you might consider using an Excel template to schedule employee shifts and add up hours worked. The idea here is that you can organize your schedule, print it out and show your team, and then potentially use that Excel file when tracking PTO or running payroll.
And free templates can be a practical and cost-effective option for some businesses. It’s definitely a step up over using paper and pen, which can lead to a lot of messy edits and is something that’s hard to share with everyone.
But there are several downsides to creating a schedule with Excel or Google Sheets templates, even for the smallest teams.
- Filing in templates is time-consuming. First, it just takes a lot of time. Plenty of business owners have a “schedule-making day” and dedicate an entire shift to writing the next week’s schedule. This is because they need to factor in staffing requirements, employee availability, business hours, tasks, time off requests, and more.
- Templates are not easy to access/share. Template spreadsheets are good for printing and posting in the office, but they’re a pain to access remotely. This problem is compounded if you deal with different departments, multiple job sites, or remote workers.
- Templates require other tools to work efficiently. A template is just a way to organize data. It doesn’t help you gather or store that data. For example, when you’re writing your schedule, you’ll still need PTO tracking software and timesheet software.
That’s why this post is going to focus on how to create a work schedule without a template. That means using schedule-creating software to streamline and simplify the entire schedule-making process — as well as other aspects of time management. While there’s a cost associated with software, it’s often worth it when you factor in the time you save.
To do this, we look at how your company can use Buddy Punch instead of a template. Buddy Punch works as web-based scheduling software, time clock software, PTO tracking software, and payroll software. You can use Buddy Punch to write your schedules, calculate hours worked, and pay your team.
How Using Software Improves Your Work Schedule
For this section, we closely examine the benefits of using Buddy Punch software to create your work schedule.
Creating a Work Schedule with a Drag and Drop Feature
Our drag-and-drop functionality means business owners can easily make a schedule without fussing with a work schedule template. It’s intuitive and quick to use.
You just click on the cell where you want to add a shift.
Then you fill out the start and end times and can add a specific location or department code (more on this below). You can also give specific shifts a designated color. For example, you can make a manager’s shift green, so you can easily look at your weekly schedule and see if a manager is on duty at least once every day.
You can also create repeating shifts from this screen. So if you have an employee who works every Monday at the same time, you can add it as a repeating shift. This cuts down on how long it takes you to create a schedule, as this info is auto-filled for all future schedules.
Already, this shows a huge improvement over using a template.
With our software, you can:
- Color-code shifts.
- Quickly edit start times/end times.
- Move shifts around with our drag and drop feature.
- Set up repeating shifts.
- Designate department codes and locations.
- Add notes for a shift.
These are things you can’t easily do (or can’t do at all) with a template.
Plus, Make Sure You’re Following Employee Availability
With Buddy Punch, employees can fill out their availability, choosing between days/times that they’re unavailable or days/times they prefer not to work.
You don’t need to check your template against another piece of paper or availability form — it’s all in Buddy Punch, easy to see as you create the week’s schedule.
Share Your Work Schedule with the Team
Employees can view their scheduled shifts in our work schedule app anytime. You can send notifications to one person or department or your entire staff with the click of a button.
Again, compare this to a template. If you used a template online, but printed it out, it’s only available at the office. Employees may take a photo of it, or write down a copy, but what happens if you need to make changes? As the week goes on, there can be multiple “versions” of the same schedule. The copy you have, and the copy your team has.
Plus, what if you’re working with remote workers or contractors, or employees who work at multiple job sites? Using an app is a better way to keep everyone in the loop on when and where they’re working.
Plus, Let Your Team Handle Shift Change Requests
Often, schedules are considered a live document. That means changes are almost a guarantee, as the unexpected occurs. If you’re using a template, you’re often stuck being the mediator between multiple employees who want to make some scheduling changes.
But with Buddy Punch, your team can trade shifts independently — making everyone’s life easier.
Employees just identify what shift they want to change, and put in a trade request with a coworker. The coworker can either accept or deny the said request. When it’s accepted, everyone’s schedule is updated to reflect the change.
Track and Manage When Your Team Works
Buddy Punch is also an online clock in and out system.
That means, your employees will clock in for work using the Buddy Punch app, which can work with any type of computer or smartphone, or tablet.
This helps you make sure your team is following the schedule you’ve written.
Here are some of our advanced clock in and out features that help make sure people are punching in honestly and time is being tracked accurately.
- Geofencing: You can designate a radius (say, 300 feet from your company) where your team can clock in and out. Buddy Punch won’t let them clock in or out if they’re outside the radius.
- IP Address Lock: You can set it up so an employee needs to be connected to a specific IP address to clock in or out.
- Photos on Punch: You can make it so team members have to upload a photo of themselves when they punch in and out. This is perfect for preventing buddy punching, which is when an employee clocks in for another co-worker.
- Punch Rounding: This helps save you money on payroll. You can set it up so a punch is rounded to the nearest hour. For example, if someone’s shift starts at 7 am, but they clock in at 6:54 am, punch rounding will ensure their entry is logged at 7 am.
Plus, Remind Your Team it’s time to Clock in for their Shift
Buddy Punch offers several scheduling alerts & reminders (click here to see the full list). This can help make sure people don’t forget to clock in. Sometimes someone gets to work early, puts up their lunch, and then gets side-tracked and starts working — only later to realize they never clocked in.
With Buddy Punch, you can set up a reminder/alert for team members who haven’t punched in within X minutes of their shift start. This alert can get sent to them via email or text.
Other Key Scheduling Features
If you have multiple offices or job sites, locations are a great way to track where an employee is spending their workday. Create your locations, assign them to employees, and when employees go to punch in, they’ll select their location. Time spent at each location will be reflected on time cards and in your reports.
Departments are like Job Codes. You can easily create and assign codes for your hourly employees to punch in to. If more than one code is assigned, employees will be given a list to select from. You’ll see the time spent on each code reflected on your employees’ time cards and your reports.
Create and assign positions for your employee to work during shifts. If your employees work in multiple positions, have them select which one they’re working on that day. Time will be split by position when viewing your reports spreadsheets.
For example, you may have an employee who needs to spend the first half of their shift managing the sales floor, and the second half doing inventory in the back.
Enable Time Punching Without a Shift
Does a full-time or part-time employee need to be added to the team schedule? Did they request time off, or are they on call and can pick up open shifts when required? You can enable it so they can punch in without a shift. Even for no-shows and erratic employee availability, your team members (with permissions) have control over shift changes through our shift trades feature — all without running into scheduling conflicts.
Place Time Limits on Schedules
If you have employees who like to punch in early or out late, it can affect your scheduled time and make you pay the price for additional overtime for the week. With our scheduling solution, you can limit punching in and out to the employee’s schedule, staffing needs, or time of day.
You can also set up overtime alerts, so you know when an employee is getting close to working overtime.
Enable Automatic Punch-Outs
Do you have forgetful employees, or would you like to ensure they punch out at the end of the day? Our time-tracking tool can automatically punch them out when their schedule ends — no need for last-minute reminders.
For more information on scheduling, check out these resources:
- Rotating shifts (and how to use them)
- Types of work schedules
- Identifying and addressing shift work fatigue
Other Key Buddy Punch Features
Above, we looked at how Buddy Punch simplifies the schedule writing process. But there’s a lot more that Buddy Punch offers.
You can use Buddy Punch to:
- Track time. As we discussed briefly above, Buddy Punch is time clock software. You can use it to track hourly and salary employees.
- Manage PTO. This includes handling time off requests, a time off calendar, and setting up accrual rules for how your team earns PTO.
- Run payroll. You can use Buddy Punch as payroll timesheet software. This means all the time tracking you’ve done in Buddy Punch, can now be used to pay your team.
- Integrate with your payroll provider. If you already have a payroll provider that you want to keep, you can integrate Buddy Punch with your provider. We have ready-to-go integrations with popular providers like ADP, Gusto, and Paychex.
For more information on how Buddy Punch can help your business, check out our:
What Customers Love about Buddy Punch
To look at what customers are saying about Buddy Punch, we checked out Capterra, a third-party review site. Buddy Punch currently has over 800 reviews, with an average star rating of 4.8/5. You can read all the reviews here.
Here are a few select reviews about using Buddy Punch to make a schedule.
“The interaction with the different sections is seamless once a person learns all the processes that relate to time in and time off. Having the availability of the calendar option makes keeping up with personal time very simple. The features that allow changes to time and scheduling are made simple and are quick and easy to perform.”Read the full review here.
“The product is extremely user friendly. It is very easy to clock in/out and to schedule staff from a scheduler perspective.”Read the full review here.
“I really like that it tracks and accrues PTO & holiday hours. I don’t have to ask anyone what my PTO balance is! I think its smart to be able to add a schedule if you happen to work the same amount of hours each day – much easier to add. I also like that I can add a comment or note of some sort, if needed.”Read the full review here.
“Buddy Punch is a great product that has allowed us to better track our technicians hours. They are on the road 3-4 days a week and Buddy Punch helps us know where they are when they punch in/out and whether they are staying on schedule. It’s a great product at a great value!”Read the full review here.
Bonus: Tips for Creating a Fair and Good Work Schedule
We looked at how software can expedite and automate much of the schedule-making process. Now, we want to look at some core aspects of a good and fair schedule. A good work schedule keeps employees happy, while satisfying the needs of your business. Here are some components of a good schedule.
- Flexibility: A flexible work schedule, such as flexible hours or remote work options, can significantly contribute to employee satisfaction. This allows employees to balance their work and personal responsibilities effectively and can help reduce stress and improve work-life balance.
With a software solution like Buddy Punch, you can allow employees to easily log their time on-site or remotely with parameters you set, like geo-fencing. You can also schedule employees in different time zones.
- Employee input: Involving employees in the scheduling process and considering their preferences and constraints can help increase their job satisfaction. Soliciting employee feedback and accommodating reasonable scheduling requests can show that their input is valued and lead to a more engaged and satisfied workforce. Buddy Punch’s shift trades and covers feature can help your employees be involved.
Plus, by letting each employee set up their preferred availability and main availability, you can factor in which shifts they most want to work (or want to avoid) when writing the schedule.
- Clear expectations: Employees should clearly understand their job responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines. A work schedule that outlines the expectations for each employee can help them plan their time effectively and feel more confident in their roles. This way no one is showing up to work not sure what’s expected of them.
- Adequate rest breaks: Regular breaks throughout the workday are essential for employees to rest, recharge, and maintain productivity. A schedule allowing for sufficient rest breaks, including lunch breaks, can help employees feel refreshed and focused.
- Fair scheduling practices: Fair scheduling practices, like providing adequate notice for shift changes, can help employees plan their personal lives and reduce stress. Ensuring scheduling practices are consistent, transparent, and considerate of employees’ needs can contribute to their satisfaction. With Buddy Punch’s one-click notifications, your employees will always know when and where they’re expected to punch in.
- Health and well-being: Prioritizing the health and well-being of employees in the work schedule, such as avoiding long hours or excessive overtime, can help prevent burnout and promote job satisfaction. A schedule that allows for a healthy work-life balance and supports employees’ physical and mental health can contribute to their happiness and well-being.
It’s important to note that the optimal work schedule may vary depending on the nature of the job, the industry, and the employees’ preferences. Regular communication and feedback from employees can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that the work schedule is designed to meet their needs and keep them happy.
For more information on time management, payroll, and more, check out these posts: