With so many different employee scheduling solutions available, figuring out which one is the right fit for you is tough — especially if you're set on using free employee scheduling software. You know you want to manage and schedule your employees more efficiently, but you need to figure out which tool is best. In this article, I'll help you simplify your selection process by sharing my insights on the best free employee scheduling software to help you narrow in on the best fit for you.
What is Free Employee Scheduling Software?
Free employee scheduling software is a type of workforce management tool that managers use to create digital work schedules for their hourly or shift-based teams. Team leads use it to schedule shifts, breaks, and shift handovers as needed. Other advanced features include shift trading (shift swapping), auto-scheduling, and automatic shift reminders sent to mobile devices. It can also help with temporary staffing, managing schedule changes, and tracking labor costs.
Free employee scheduling software adds value by streamlining the process of managing work schedules, saving time and money by freeing up more manager hours for other tasks. It also enhances communication, improves operational efficiency, and increases employee satisfaction by creating more transparent schedules that are accessible via mobile devices from anywhere. All this functionality is delivered free of charge, either permanently (as in a freemium plan), or for a set period of time with a free trial.
Connecteam’s scheduling software is simple to use and scalable, so you can start with their free version and add more features over time. Using a free account, employers can create schedules using customizable templates, or build their own.
Since employees can submit their availability and time off requests directly in the app, employers have a clear view of when everyone is available, which helps reduce any scheduling conflicts. Once schedules are published, employees receive a notification on their mobile devices and can access them immediately. When they head to work, employees can clock in and out in real-time using the mobile employee time clock.
Why I picked Connecteam: The scheduling software is dynamic. It makes it easy for managers to repeat schedules that work from week to week using weekly shift templates or create their own from scratch. The system will also flag things like schedule conflicts, weekly overtime exceeded, and periods of unavailability for specific workers.
Once published, employees receive a notification immediately on their mobile devices and can check their schedules right in the app so they have all the information they need immediately. Employees can also accept, reject, and swap shifts with manager approval right in the app.
Available on mobile, desktop, or as a kiosk app for tablets, Connecteam was built for deskless and remote teams. It’s a popular choice for teams in many industries, including retail, restaurants, manufacturing, construction, field services, and healthcare. It also includes communication features like in-app chat and company announcements with the ability to add likes, comments, mentions and replies within the app.
Connecteam Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include scheduling templates, shift duplication tools, geolocation tracking, productivity workflows, automatic shift reminders, equal shift distribution tools, shift overlap prevention tools, employee shift swap, real-time push notifications, compliance tracking, in-app chat, push notifications, company updates, and a full-feature mobile app.
Integrations include Paychex, Xero, Gusto, QuickBooks Payroll (online + desktop), Zapier, Google Calendar, API access, and others.
Homebase is an easy-to-use, intuitive software for employee scheduling. The app helps you manage your employees’ schedules, from work shifts to vacation days. The shifts can be scheduled by day or by half-day. Homebase allows employees to know what hours are available and see upcoming shifts. You can make shift changes, swap shifts, and add overtime too. You can set up different schedules for each week and adjust them on the fly.
Why I picked Homebase: Unlike competitors in the free employee scheduling space, Homebase is free for unlimited employees (one location) and offers POS (point-of-sale) and payroll integration options—yes, even on the free plan! On top of that, their free plan includes timesheets, a time clock, overtime/late alerts for employees, and messaging tools too. The platform will also send updates sent to your team through in-app, text, or email alerts when the schedule is adjusted.
Homebase Standout Features and Integrations:
The features covered by Homebase's free plan include open job posting solutions, shift swapping, basic applicant tracking, workplace safety alerts, and shift feedback tools.
Integrations are available with Google Calendar, Evernote, Gmail, IFTTT, DropBox, and other apps.
What's Free: Homebase is free to use for unlimited employees at 1 location. If you need to service multiple locations, it's easy to scale up to their paid plan.
Acuity Scheduling is a cloud-based software that integrates with your email calendar.
Why I picked Acuity Scheduling: Their software is particularly good at handling complicated scheduling scenarios by allowing for post-booking flexibility like resetting the booking amount and rollover of remaining appointments. It has an easily navigable scheduler and scheduling editor. Acuity Scheduling allows for scheduling for packages, memberships, and group classes including recurring billing. This can be particularly helpful if you are an online trainer, coach, or consultant. You also have the option to share your calendar with your clients via Facebook and Instagram.
Acuity Scheduling Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include time zone and multi-location support, employee self-service features, and a reporting dashboard that is clean and easy-to-use, plus detailed reporting and analytics.
Integrations are available with Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Apple Calendar, Facebook, Instagram, Zoho, video conferencing software, and over 500 more with a paid plan through Zapier. Acuity Scheduling also integrates with online payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, and Square.
What's Free: Acuity Scheduling offers a 7-day free trial of their paid plans, but no permanent free forever option.
Asana is an app designed to break tasks down into manageable pieces and then assign them accordingly. Asana also has a Kanban board view that lets you visualize your progress.
Why I picked Asana: Their calendar feature lets you track your employee’s tasks and see which team member is working on what task and at what time. You can use this information to keep track of important project deadlines and milestones. Based on that you can adjust the shifts and give in-app feedback. You can schedule multiple projects and assign tasks to your team or sort scheduled tasks by team member, due date, and priority. You can also add milestones to a task and set deadlines for each phase of the project. The product is mobile-friendly with iOS and Android apps.
Asana Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include unlimited tasks, unlimited projects and unlimited messages, an activity log, multiple views (calendar, projects, board), assignees and due dates, time tracking integrations and iOS and Android mobile apps.
Integrations are available with 100+ popular systems, including Azure Active Directory, Google Calendar, Jira, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams, Okta, PomoDone, Slack, TimeCamp, Zapier, and many others.
What's Free: Asana's free plan is intended for individual use or small teams. It includes a calendar view plus unlimited tasks, projects, messages, and activity logs, and supports collaboration for up to 15 team members.
Timify is a free appointment and resource scheduling software for small and medium businesses. It has an online calendar feature to provide employees with visibility into their schedules, meetings, and appointments to help them manage their time efficiently.
Why I picked Timify: Their software includes an appointment-booking feature, so you can embed a booking widget on your website allowing customers to book appointments and access services according to their availability. You can use Timify to create services and events and assign resources like rooms, devices, or tools to help prevent scheduling conflicts while ensuring customers receive exemplary services.
Small businesses often work on limited human resources, making Timify an ideal resource tracking software because it allows business owners to invite staff as account users to help manage the business. With Timify, owners can define user permissions for staff members to use the software while limiting access to sensitive features and information. You can use Timify to track and manage the booking capacity of your resources to help you foresee availability and plan contingencies that will help ensure continuous business operations.
Timify Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include an online calendar, email confirmations, customer and resource management tools, a booking widget, and online payment integrations.
Integrations are available with Intercom, Google Calendar, GoToMeeting, Meta, Microsoft Office 365, Zapier, Zoom, and others.
What's Free: Timify's free plan is available for up to 5 resources (people or rooms) and includes an online calendar and web-based booking tools. For additional features, including mobile apps, calendar syncs, and shift planning tools, you'll want to scale up to one of their paid plans.
Findmyshift is a web-based employee scheduling software that makes it easy for managers to schedule their staff. It can helps you create a roster schedule in minutes using their drag-and-drop calendar interface. The free-form editor lets you add as many items to as many cells as you like, based on your requirements. You can also create and store templates of repeating shift patterns to help you speed up your scheduling process.
Why I picked Findmyshift: Their software helps managers organize staff and shifts by finding the right person for the job at any given time. Findmyshift can do this with its rota feature, letting you see who’s available and who’s not when allocating shifts. The rota feature can also come to use when allocating time-offs as it will tell you if the employee has any shifts scheduled in that period. You can also keep the time-off requests private to avoid any staff conflict. The mobile app provides an excellent platform for employers to search, filter, and manage their employee’s availability in real-time.
Findmyshift Standout Features and Integrations:
Features within their free plan include scheduling tools, an employee time clock, shift reminders, shift reminders & notifications, an on-screen editor, one week of historical scheduling data, and one week of forward staff scheduling all organized by one manager.
Integrations are available with Amazon Alexa, BambooHR, Cake, Google Calendar, Google Assistant, Lightspeed, Monday.com, Microsoft Outlook, People, Slack, Square, Vend, and Xero.
What's Free: Their free forever plan is available for 1 manager with up to 5 employees and up to 10 MB data storage. If you need more features or storage space, you can scale up to one of their paid plans.
Field code is an asset-based service management tool that helps businesses manage multi-location field service teams and organize dispatch operations. Companies can use Fieldcode to assign tickets to their field technicians, see the progress of tasks, and collect electronic signatures from clients.
Why I picked Fieldcode: You can use Fieldcode to generate real-time onsite reports. Managers can track their employees’ live location with GPS and keep their customers in the loop about the progress via emails and SMS. The dashboard is simple and lets team members filter tickets based on regions or projects. Support is available via an inquiry form and through videos, blogs, and whitepapers.
Fieldcode Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include automatic appointment booking and dispatching, route optimization tools, forecasting tools, Internet of Things (IoT) integrations with IT infrastructure, an analytics dashboard, a ticket-based communication and request system, and mobile apps.
Integration details are not listed on their website at this time.
What's Free: Fieldcode's free account includes standard features and supports up to 10 users. It includes support via email, self-guided implementation, and a wizard set-up function. For additional features, you can scale up to one of their paid plans.
ZoomShift is a software you can use to handle all your scheduling needs. Use the software to give employees access to their schedules, set their availability, and request time-off. Schedule visibility also gives employees the ability to pick up open shifts, ensuring you have enough human resources to run your business.
Why I picked ZoomShift: Their employee scheduling software that can help you manage hourly employees with work schedule templates you can copy to save time when creating schedules. It allows you to send schedules through text, email, and push notifications ensuring employees receive their schedules ahead.
ZoomShift also automatically sends reminders to employees before their shift starts to help prevent absences and ensure you are not short-staffed. The software also gives you visibility on the availability of employees so you can find replacements quickly when a scheduled employee calls in sick or is unable to make their shift.
ZoomShift Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include employee scheduling, shift & scheduling templates, shift swapping, shift confirmations, multi-shift group assignments, an employee time clock, timesheets, PTO tracking, private manager notes, and unlimited locations.
Integrations are available with QuickBooks Online, Square Point of Sale, Xero, Vend, and Workato.
What's Free: ZoomShift doesn't offer any free-forever plans. However, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial to test it out, and even their lowest-cost Starter plan packs in a lot of features for an affordable price.
Google Workspace is an online productivity suite that allows users to access documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and calendars in the cloud. It offers data syncing across all devices and operating systems and provides additional security and privacy for your files with end-to-end encryption. Like all Google products, Workspace is built around Gmail integration—making it easy to share and distribute unlimited employee schedules.
Why I picked Google Workspace: The product doubles up as an employee scheduler by managing employee schedules and shift assignments. It offers centralized access to all schedules and shift assignments, making it easier for managers and employees to make changes on the fly. Google workspace can be used to send notifications to various employees via email. You can use it to create, schedule, and share Google Slides presentations with others. You can leverage it as a free scheduling tool by building your own collaborative spreadsheets and downloading scheduling templates from HR communities online.
You can build your own collaborative spreadsheet, download scheduling templates from HR communities online. You can combine the power of Google Workspace with add-ons from the Google Workspace marketplace like Shift Scheduler. Shift scheduler will automatically create and maintain your organization’s schedule in a single spreadsheet, creating Google Calendar events for your users/employees. It will also create and maintain a separate spreadsheet view reorganizing the schedules by shifts, to see which employee is covering what responsibility.
The product can be accessed via an offline mode too. Support is available via chat and email.
Google Workspace Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include custom business email addresses, up to 100 participants in video meetings, 30 GB of storage per user, shared team calendars, numerous templates, and a forms & survey builder. Their packages also include access to their full Google suite of applications, including Gmail, Drive, Meet, Calendar, Chat, Jambaord, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Sites and Forms.
Integrations include Microsoft Office 365, LinkedIn, and OneDrive.
What's Free: Google Workspace no longer offers a free forever plan, though you can sign up for a 14-day free trial to test it out.
Sling is a scheduling software and workforce management tool that helps managers, supervisors, and employees make informed decisions about how to be more productive. It provides features like group scheduling for large events, managing time-offs, and customizing employee schedules.
Why I picked Sling: With the free version of Sling app, you can set up shift templates so that you do not have to create recurring shifts from scratch. You can also set up shift alarms to keep your deadlines on track. Employees can submit time-off requests while you can check available shifts in real-time. Sling comes with Native iOS and Android apps. Support is available via a help center, filled with extensive documentation. You can also contact them via email.
Sling Standout Features and Integrations:
Features include employee scheduling, shift trading, budget management tools, overtime flags, absenteeism notifications, overlapping shift warnings, and a mobile app.
Integrations are available with Shopify, Gusto, Square, and other apps.
What's Free: Sling is free to use for unlimited users but with limited features. For example, some features like shift swapping and time clocks are locked to paid plans.
- ABC Roster
Best free scheduling software for constraints management
Best free employee scheduling software for the restaurant industry
Best for creating timesheets to integrate with payroll
Best free employee scheduling app with Gantt chart visualization
Best free scheduling tool for easy leave management automation
Best employee scheduling and time tracking tool for mid-sized companies
Best employee scheduling and timecard application for freelancers
Selection Criteria for Free Employee Scheduling Software
Wondering how I created this top 10 list? I'm happy to explain my process.
I started out by developing a long list of employee scheduling software with positive user ratings based on recent market data for employee scheduling software as a whole. I then examined each software provider's website in greater detail to determine what, if any, free options they offer users.
Some of the software systems in this list do offer free forever plans with limited features, which are also commonly referred to as freemium plans. A freemium plan is a simplified version of the software that includes enough scheduling features to get you started. However, the best features will likely be held back, to keep you wanting more. For that reason, I've noted specifically which portions of each employee scheduling software are free, and which aren't.
Finally, to narrow my list down even further, I used the selection criteria below as a framework to guide my ultimate selections for this list.
Here’s a summary of the core features I assessed while creating this list of the best free employee scheduling software, plus the framework I used to assess their strength:
- Time tracking: Time tracking is a critical functionality for any employee scheduling app. Managers need to track the time an employee spends on a particular task and also maintain timesheets. Employee scheduling apps that have this feature help to boost company productivity.
- Timesheet reporting and analytics: To assess this I determined whether the software had features for preparing timesheet reports including logged work hours, overtime, and billable hours. I also noted whether that data came with any additional insightful analytics. Based on timesheet reporting, a business owner will be able to calculate payroll, ship correct invoices, and get a clear picture of the output of their team.
- Mobile app accessibility: Since nearly everyone has a phone in their pocket at all times, it's crucial that your employee scheduling software offers a mobile app, or is at least mobile-friendly. That way, your employees can stay up-to-date on their work schedule while on the go.
- Schedule export options: Depending on your industry, you may need to export your schedules as PDFs, spreadsheets, or email attachments. This is especially important for teams that work remotely or may have limited internet access. Exporting schedules helps take data from the software and store it in the team member’s personal device. This helps in keeping the entire team on track even without access to the software.
- Time-off requests and approvals: Time-off requests are a key feature of employee scheduling software as it is directly related to the productivity of the organization. Time-off requests are important for keeping your workforce motivated and active, so an organized way of calculating time-off and submitting requests becomes all the more important.
A strong user interface (UI) is always important, since it helps staff at all levels navigate the software easily. There’s a common misconception in the industry that “free” means “looks cheaply made”. For this article, I specifically highlighted employee scheduling tools that look good, sport clean interfaces, and make sense layout-wise.
To assess each system's usability, I examined how their menus were organized and how easy it was to access different features. I also looked into whether each software vendor offers good customer support, user onboarding, tutorials, or training. It’s important that employee scheduling platforms are user-friendly and easy to set up. I also look for automation capabilities to speed up your scheduling process.
Investing in a scheduling tool with pre-built software integrations will help you run your team more efficiently. That's why I've summarized the key integrations for each system, as well as access to any APIs they may also include. Key integrations I checked for include team communication and messaging tools, digital calendars, and any additional systems for time-tracking that capture clock-in and clock-out times.
Value for Price
As I mentioned, I aimed to summarize the best free options for employee scheduling in this article. However, sometimes the free plans come with limited features. In that case, you'll likely want to scale up your plan. That's why I've included pricing details for their paid plans as well, so you know what to expect should you decide to scale up.
Why is employee scheduling software important?
Creating thoughtful work schedules for your employees is important because it makes a big impact on your employee experience. According to Shiftboard, “employee turnover is 174% more likely without real-time scheduling capabilities.”
Employees also want to feel like they have some level of control over their work schedules, which is supported by this type of software. In the same research by Shiftboard, 87% of workers said it was extremely important for them to have control over their work schedules, with 55% of respondents claiming they would leave their jobs if that was lacking.
What are the benefits of using employee scheduling software?
There are numerous benefits to using employee scheduling software, including:
- The ability to review schedules from anywhere, including on mobile devices
- The ability to share scheduling updates automatically with all impacted employees in real-time
- Reusable scheduling templates for weekly, monthly, or team schedules
- Empowering employees to swap shifts with each other to accommodate personal preferences
- Integrated scheduling analytics and reporting tools
Another huge benefit is saving time, and who doesn’t love that? According to research done by Deputy, managers who use software for shift management typically spend 2.64 hours a week creating schedules. In contrast, those who schedule their staff using spreadsheets spend 3.14 hours a week, or 140 hours a year!
How can I make an employee schedule for free?
There are a ton of staff scheduling options you can test or use for free. But if you’re a bit more old-school, you can use a simple Excel spreadsheet or even a whiteboard to make your employee schedule.
If you choose not to use a cloud-based scheduling software, here are some tips to support your team:
- Find a schedule template online that you can use to fill in upcoming shifts on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.
- Use the same calendar every time, and make sure employees can access it easily both at work and at home.
- Implement a way to track time such as a classic punch-in system or time clock to line up planned vs. actual hours worked.
- Clarify how shift changes will work so your staff knows how to proceed if they need to swap shifts with a coworker.
- Implement task management tools like checklists to ensure the work gets done regardless of who is scheduled.
Keep in mind, the greater the number of employees, the need to schedule across multiple locations, and fluctuating employee availability can all make this a lot more complicated. So while a simple spreadsheet might suffice today, you should consider modernizing your scheduling process as your staff grows.
Not only that, but making sure every team member is aware of their upcoming shifts is essential. A free scheduling software can add people’s shifts right into their Google calendar, and send them reminders ahead of work. It can also make it easier for employees to take on open shifts and clock in and out of work.
Can I create employee schedules using a mobile app?
Yes, you absolutely can. Many of the best employing scheduling software tools provide free apps for Android and iOS mobile devices in addition to their web-based software. This offers you the best of both worlds. Supervisors can manage scheduling using larger screens on desktop or tablets, while workers can easily check in using their mobile app.
The benefit of using systems with integrated mobile apps is you can also sent real-time alerts via SMS text messages or app notifications whenever any scheduling details change.
However, it’s worth noting that mobile apps may not always be part of free or freemium plans. If that’s a feature you’re really hoping for, you may want to scale up to something with more robust features. If you’ve got the budget for it, check this my lists of the best employee scheduling software or best shift scheduling software for some other solid options.
How to Choose the Best Free Employee Scheduling Software for You
With so many employee scheduling tools out there, I realize finding the perfect fit for you might be a little challenging. Here's a 5-step process to help you find the best fit for you:
1. Clarify Your Employee Scheduling Needs
Start by reviewing the shortcomings of any scheduling software you're currently using. What features are you missing that you wish you had access to? What challenges are you facing with your current scheduling tool? Talk to the future users of the software (i.e., your department managers or team leads) to gather their specific requirements and needs too.
2. Research Scheduling Software Vendors
You can use this list as your jumping-off point for scheduling tools that offer free plans. However, if you realize the features you're looking for are more advanced than those typically included in free versions, fear not. We have many other lists of top picks ready for your perusal too. Just scroll down for the links to save you more time!
3. Make a Shortlist of Software Vendors
Gather input from all your future users, and ask them to make a list of their top three choices. Merge the lists together to satisfy all your stakeholders' needs and to find vendors in common from all perspectives. With your top three choices in hand, request additional information from each vendor so you can compare their offerings side-by-side.
4. Request Free Trials
Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get a hands-on taste of what it's like to use each tool. Take notes of any limitations or difficulties you run into and any questions that come up. Involve all your future users in this process too, since they need to feel comfortable using the software as well.
5. Sign-Up, Implement, and Onboard
After step four, a clear winner should emerge from the stack. Now you're ready to take the final step and sign up for an account. If the software you end up with is free forever, kudos to you. However, you may also want to keep your options open by considering a paid version instead. Or, at least, a freemium version that can scale up as your scheduling needs grow.
For additional tips to smooth out your selection process, take a look at our recommendations for how to choose HR software in 5 steps.
Other Employee Scheduling Software Reviews
There are many different types of employee scheduling software, to suit different business needs. To save you some time, here are some links to my other top 10 lists covering different subsets of employee scheduling software:
- Best Employee Scheduling Software
- Employee Scheduling Software for Small Businesses
- Employee Shift Scheduling Software
- Open Source Employee Scheduling Software
- Online Employee Scheduling Software
I hope you enjoyed my top picks for the best free employee shift scheduling software. Employee scheduling software is an important tool that can modernize your workforce. These all-in-one tools can do more than simply improve your scheduling and shift management. They can also help you with labor forecasting, improving team productivity, tracking time, and minimizing no-shows.
Want to stay ahead in all things related to employee management and the HR world? Subscribe to our free People Managing People newsletter to stay in touch.