Use a work schedule to clarify which team members are working, when. A work schedule is a simple document—but you can take this document to the next level by adding project timelines and task assignments. In this article, we’ll dive into the different types of work schedules, how you can create one, and how an online tool gives you the flexibility to change your work schedule and collaborate with team members across projects.
A work schedule is a way to document when your team members are working and what they are working on. This type of documentation might sound simple, but it’s essential for your team’s structure. By visualizing your team’s tasks in advance, you enable team collaboration and keep projects on track.
There are many types of work schedules to choose from, depending on your business needs. Although creating a work schedule template is complex, you can use scheduling tools to create endless customization options. Then, once you’ve created your work schedule, bring it to life using online tools.Visualize team calendars with Asana
Work schedules vary between industries, roles, and countries. A software engineer may work the night shift to keep systems running for daytime workers, and an operations manager may have extended shift schedules to watch over manufacturing.
While your company may stick to a traditional full-time schedule, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with other work schedule types. Your team members may appreciate flexibility with their day instead of sticking to a 9-to-5 schedule. But before making any changes to your team’s work schedule, make sure to check with your internal legal team. Always make sure to follow local and federal laws when assigning work schedules.
Some of the most common types of work schedules include:
A full-time schedule means your team members are working a traditional work week. For example, in the United States, a full time schedule means team members work 40 hours per week—traditionally from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Other countries, like France, might have other legal definitions of what “full time” means—so always check with your internal legal and HR teams if you haven’t already.
If you use this work schedule, you’ll usually work at the same time as others on your team. This will make communication with partners or stakeholders easier. You can set up a full-time schedule for your team members by keeping deadlines and task start dates within these hours.
Part–time team members work fewer than a full work week. You may have part-timers for roles that don’t require as much work, or because a team member doesn’t want to work full time. To set up part-time schedules, make a note of when these people are available to work and assign them tasks that they can work with others on during those allotted times.
There are a variety of local and federal laws that govern what part time work schedules may be available in your area. When in doubt, check with your internal legal team to learn what part-time options are available for your team members, if any.
Many companies have adopted remote/flex-time schedules to give team members more freedom. Flexibility can reduce employee turnover, which results in reduced labor costs. A flex-time schedule might require core work hours of 10am to 2pm, while the other four hours are team members' choice. In this example, as long as each team member works eight hours per day, they’ve met their daily work requirement.
Flex schedules aren’t available for every team, company, or country, but it may be a good solution to give your team the flexibility they need to get their best work done. If you do try this type of work schedule, ensure you schedule team gatherings like meetings and workshops within the core hours when you know everyone will be at work.
The 5-4/9 work schedule is a creative way to adjust your team members’ full-time hours. In this setup, team members work 80 hours over two weeks, but they do so by working five nine-hour days during week one, and four nine-hour days during week two. This benefits the team members because they receive a three-day weekend every other week. This change to the team work schedule could improve work-life balance without disrupting communication with others in your industry. As with other work schedules, check local and federal guidelines before trying to implement this schedule.
The 2-2, 3-2, 2-3 work schedule is more common for team members who work around the clock, but it could inspire your work schedule template. In this schedule, team members work in 12-hour shifts. They work two days on, followed by two days off. Then, they work three days on, followed by two days off. Next, they work two days on, followed by three days off, before the cycle continues. This schedule can switch between day shift cycles and night shift cycles.
This type of cyclical work schedule is great for industries where team members need to be available around the clock. But before you move forward with this template, confirm with your internal legal team that this is in line with local and federal guidelines in your area.
A simplified version of the schedule above is the 4/10. In this schedule, team members work in 10-hour shifts. Team members work four days of the week before having three days off. Your team members might appreciate this work schedule because it only adds two hours to their average workday, but it gives them three-day weekends every weekend. Similar to other adjusted work schedules, this template may not be available in your area, so check with your company before moving forward.
When you think of work schedules, does a traditional print out come to mind? If so, we’re not surprised. That’s because traditional work schedules are static documents that are typically printed out and posted somewhere in the office.
But writing your work schedule on paper comes with a whole host of problems. From losing the paper to not having enough space for edits, work schedule printouts don’t leave room for error. The point of a work schedule is to make things more clear—so if you’re getting lost among a sea of papers, something is amiss.
Instead, uplevel your work schedule by creating it in an online scheduling tool. You’ll be able to streamline team schedules, see who’s working when, and capture real-time data about the initiatives each team member is working on.
Managing your work schedule in an online view also takes it beyond just a simple list of team working hours. With a virtual tool, you can also manage project requirements and team member responsibilities in one place. Then, when you make adjustments, you can easily share those updates with team members in real-time so everyone is on the same page about who’s working when, and on what.
A work schedule is a simple document that describes which team members are working when. But you can take this document beyond its core value by also adding information about what each team member will be working on when. Use these six steps to uplevel your work schedule template:
The first step in creating your work schedule template is to align on what your team's work schedule is. This step is a chance for you and your team to align on who will be working when.
Tip: Always check with your HR and legal teams during this stage to ensure you're complying with local and federal guidelines about work schedules. For example, which team members are allowed to work overtime and which team members aren’t?
Once you’ve aligned your team’s work schedules, you can take a comprehensive look at your to-do list. That way, you can create a big picture view of what needs to be done and what priorities others already have.
When you make your list, input the tasks you and your team need to complete into your online tool. You may want to start with a weekly or monthly task list; that way, you can make a habit of regularly updating this list.
You should also include items that team members need to keep track of, like meetings, workshops, and performance reviews.
Tip: When you make your list, input the tasks you and your team need to complete into your online tool. You can use a work breakdown structure to identify the required tasks for each of your projects. If you can’t think of everything, don’t worry. Team members can add to their work schedules once they view them online. They’ll have the best idea of what their daily schedule should include.Visualize team calendars with Asana
In addition to capturing everything your team needs to work on in the coming days or weeks, ensure each initiative has an accompanying deadline. Without clear understanding of when work is due, your team won’t be able to effectively prioritize their tasks.
Note that your deadlines may change as timelines adjust, and that’s ok. Clarifying task deadlines—even if they’re only rough deadlines—helps your team understand what they should be working on when.
Tip: It’s okay if you’re unable to plan your work schedule months in advance. Aim to flesh out the details of one project at a time. Add those details into your project management tool to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and priorities. Then, if you need to make any changes, your virtual tool makes your work schedules flexible and easy to adjust.
Your work schedule gives you information about who’s working when. Combine that information with the deadlines and priorities of each task to figure out who needs to be working on what. In particular, seeing deadlines next to your tasks can help you determine how many people you need for each project, and when those people will be available. Use a RACI chart to outline what roles and responsibilities team members have for each project.
As you assign team members to tasks, consider the following questions:
When are team members available?
How many hours does each team member have to work on this?
What days are team members available for work?
How can I align team member schedules with relevant work tasks?
Tip: Once you know your timeline and team, bring everyone together to nail down the project details. It’s often easier to identify team member strengths and find where people fit into a project when you observe their behaviors and receive feedback.
Deadlines show team members when to complete tasks, but you’ll also need to map out task start dates. Team members need both start and end times for tasks so they can plan out the rest of their schedules. That way, they can make room for unexpected meetings, professional development, or personal to-dos.
Tip: An alternative to creating start dates for tasks is to assign hours to a project. This gives team members flexibility on task start dates, while still providing the needed structure. Estimated hours also set benchmarks for utilization rates. Once a team member completes a task, they'll clock the actual hours it took them and you'll compare this time to the time you assigned.
One of the best things about online work schedules is using built-in rules and automation. Work life can get busy—that’s no surprise—and there are a lot of moving parts in a work schedule. Use project management automation to track what your team is working on to prevent burnout and overwork.
Some helpful ways to automate your work schedule include:
Assigning hours to individual tasks
Moving work around when one team member is overloaded
Adjusting deadlines when projects get extended
Tip: You should now have a comprehensive task list with people assigned and task timeframes for each. At this point, you can make any necessary changes to your work schedule and ask team members for feedback.Read: The best alternative to Excel timelines and calendars
When you use an online tool to create your work schedule, you’ll have options for how to view it. This is a benefit of using scheduling software because different visualization methods can show you things you may not have seen otherwise.
For example, if you view your work schedule as a calendar, you may notice deadlines more easily. But if you view your work schedule as a Gantt chart, you’ll see project dependencies more clearly.
Here are some ways to view your work schedule with Asana:
Gantt chart: A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart that displays your work schedule. It’s a great visual tool to understand the tasks your team needs to complete over time, along with key milestones and dependencies.
Calendar view: With calendar view, you’ll have a clear idea of when tasks are due and how those tasks relate to other tasks or events happening in your day, week, or month.
By list: When you view your work schedule as a to-do list, you’ll see every detail that accompanies each task. These items will show up in drop-downs menus for things such as priority, assignee, attached docs, deadlines, and notes.
Kanban boards: Kanban boards organize tasks in your work schedule in columns. Traditionally, each column represents a work stage. Your Kanban board might have columns labeled, “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” Individual tasks—which are represented as cards on the board—move through the columns until team members complete each task.
The different schedule views help you visualize team tasks and gain insight into your entire project. Some of these tools combine the benefits of scheduling with project management so you can view and work on projects as they progress through each stage.Read: 3 visual project management layouts (and how to use them)
When you use a tool like Asana, you open up possibilities for your team. Your work schedule will be more than a simple list—it will be a living document that others can interact with, change as needed, and integrate with task management.
Putting your work schedule online will ensure you’re managing your team effectively while juggling other responsibilities. With the right structure in place, your team can accomplish their best work.Visualize team calendars with Asana