30/05/2024

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The 7 best work schedule apps of 2023

The 7 best work schedule apps of 2023

Managing work schedules can be tricky, especially when it comes to balancing business demands with employee needs. But with work schedule apps, managers can find a solution that fits comfortably in their back pocket. 

The only question is which app to choose when there are so many options out there. Every small business is unique, which means some tools will suit your needs better than others. 

This article will review the top seven work schedule apps based on their features, pricing, and user experience. So, whether you need to streamline your scheduling or get better oversight of who’s working and when, we’ll find the best platform for you.

Key features to look for in work schedule apps

Before we explore the top work schedule apps, let’s outline what features they should include. That way you’ll find it easier to spot the best one for you.

  • Team availability: You can’t write a schedule without knowing when your team can work, but gathering this information is time-consuming. Good apps cut this task out by collecting staff availability and using the information to help you create a smart schedule. 
  • Automations: The top apps let you instantly create schedules based on each employee’s availability, role, and seniority.
  • Templates: When you’ve got a timetable that works for everyone, you probably want to reuse it week over week. So, your work schedule app should let you save schedule templates to a library and easily access them whenever you need to.
  • Self-scheduling tools: You can reduce the amount of time you spend on scheduling by giving employees more control over their hours. That means you need features that let your team arrange swaps or covers and claim open shifts. 
  • Reminders and notifications: To help employees stick to their schedules, you can prompt them about upcoming shifts. Alerts for issues like late arrivals and missed breaks can help you resolve issues immediately instead of last-minute, when you’re trying to calculate payroll.
  • Shared capabilities with the desktop version: It’s no use having a work schedule app that’s missing essential features on mobile. That’s why you need a platform that offers the same functionality on your phone and tablet.
  • Data and analytics: Most apps collect your sales and wage data to help you forecast your labor requirements. Some also track attendance, late arrivals, and no-shows to show you how different team members are performing.
  • Interconnected employee management tools: Besides scheduling, small businesses often require other HR features like time tracking and payroll. It’s best to choose software that includes all the essentials so you can share data seamlessly across the platform instead of multitasking with various apps. 
  • A wide range of integrations: No apps are ‘one size fits all’ and you’ll need integrations to solve some of your challenges. For example, restaurants and bars accept tips so they might need software like Toast to manage these extra payments. By choosing an app that connects to all the niche software you might need, you’ll save time juggling different tools.
  • Affordable pricing: The ideal app shouldn’t strain your budget or make you pay for too many features you don’t need. 

Our top pick for work schedule apps in 2023 (+ the rest ranked)

With its affordable pricing and versatile range of features, Homebase is the clear choice for most small businesses. You can access basic scheduling and time tracking for free, and access more advanced features, like shift trades, time off requests, and shift reminders, for just $24.95 per month. Plus, you get access to time tracking and accounting tools so you have everything you need in one place.

But Homebase might not be for everyone. For larger and more complex businesses, you may find Connecteam offers more customization. And Humanity is ideal for those in the healthcare industry as it solves many of their unique challenges. 

  1. Homebase: Best all-in-one solution
  2. Sling: Best for time zone differences
  3. Connecteam: Best for customization
  4. When I Work: Best for multiple admins
  5. Humanity: Best for Apple Watch compatibility
  6. HotSchedules powered by Fourth: Best for employee feedback
  7. Calendly: Best for scheduling appointments

Comparison chart: Top 6 work schedule apps in 2023

Name Pricing App Store Rating Notable Features
Homebase logo

Homebase

Plans range from free to $99.95 per location per month.

Users get a 20% discount with an annual commitment.

4.8

• Automation, template, and self-scheduling tools

• Team availability

• Robust communication features

• Labor forecasting tools

• Built-in time tracking and accounting tools

Sling logo

Sling

Plans range from free to $4 per user per month. 4.7

• View across different time zones

• Versatile self-scheduling features

• Scheduling by the time of the day

connectteam logo

Connecteam

Plans range from free to $297 per month. 4.2

• Sub-jobs

• Admin permissions filters

• Task checklists and management

when i work logo

When I Work

Plans range from $2.50 to $8 per user per month. 4.8

• Autoscheduling

• Template tools

• Labor forecasting

Humanity logo

Humanity

A choice of three plans with custom pricing. 4.9

• Self-scheduling tools

• Compatibility with the Apple Watch

•  Scheduling based on key performance indicators (KPIs)

HotSchedules logo

HotSchedules by Fourth

Prices aren’t readily available. 4.6

• End-of-shift surveys

• Compliance notifications and alerts

• Messaging and announcement features

Calendly logo

Calendly

Prices range from free to $16 per user per month and there’s also the option of a custom pricing plan. 4.9

• Meeting polls

• Availability settings

• Reporting and analytics

A breakdown of the 6 best work schedule apps

1. Best all-in-one solution: Homebase

A screenshot of the Homebase scheduling feature.
Homebase provides an all-in-one solution to employee management including versatile scheduling tools and labor forecasting.

Designed with small businesses in mind, Homebase offers all the essential features that you’re likely to need. You can sync data across our scheduling, time tracking, and payroll tools. Then, you can use its built-in features to coordinate all your team processes. 

Top features

  • Autopopulation based on staff roles and availability
  • Clock-in on tablets, computers, and POS devices — including location-based clock in and the ability to capture team photos
  • An unlimited template library
  • Team availability that collects which days staff can and can’t work
  • Employee self-scheduling for trades, covers, and open shifts
  • Custom overtime and break preferences
  • Automated, real-time reminders and notifications for employees 
  • Labor forecasting by roles, days, and more
  • Versatile communication features like shift notes and group messaging
  • A range of other HR tools like a GPS time clock, timesheets, and payroll

Pros and cons

Homebase has a robust set of scheduling tools to streamline creating timetables, reduce errors, and keep your team happy. You can autopopulate shifts using your team’s availability, reuse templates from your library, and let staff adjust their hours using swaps and covers. All these are available in either the free or lowest-cost plan.

But as Homebase targets small businesses like shops and cafes in particular, we’re not well-suited to some setups. For example, we don’t offer meeting schedule tools or support timetables for large, complex organizations.

Pricing

Homebase has a free plan for up to twenty users that provides basic scheduling tools. For more control and flexibility, here are our paid plans:

  • Essentials for $24.95 per month per location for advanced scheduling and time tracking features, like team availability, shift notes, and self-scheduling tools.
  • Plus for $59.95 per month per location, which has everything in Essentials plus leave management and custom permissions.
  • All-in-one for $99.95 per month per location for labor forecasting and reporting.

You can save 20% off all plans by making an annual commitment.

2. Sling: Best for time zone differences

A screenshot example of Sling's mobile app interface.
Small international businesses may benefit from Sling’s time zone features. Source

Some small businesses operate in different time zones which adds an extra layer of complexity to scheduling staff. You have to assign hours that suit the business, the employee, and the customer. To avoid confusion, Sling lets you schedule and track shifts in everyone’s local times.

Top features

  • Scheduling with a view of the business and the employee’s local time zone
  • Open shifts with the option to let staff assign themselves on a first come first serve basis or to choose from the volunteers
  • The ability to segment days into morning, afternoon, and evening shifts

Pros and cons

The main upside of Sling is the free plan with unlimited users. This means if you just need the basic tools, you don’t need to pay a cent. 

But the downside is if you need more functionality, Sling doesn’t offer as many tools on its paid plans as some competitors. It also charges per employee. So, you could end up paying a high rate even though you don’t get accounting or HR features.

Pricing

There are three Sling plans:

  • Free for unlimited employees, managers, and locations which offers basic scheduling tools.
  • Premium at $2 per user per month to add availability management and self-scheduling tools. 
  • Business at $4 per user per month for everything in Premium plus autoscheduling.

3. Connecteam: Best for customization

Side by side screenshots of Connecteam's scheduling and timesheet features.
Connecteam lets you tailor the platform’s tools to your specific business processes. Source

Depending on the complexity of your business, you may need a high level of customization. Connecteam’s granular settings can help you achieve this. There are tools like sub-jobs that let you categorize shifts and filters to determine who can access what. The platform also has a wealth of other built-in features like courses and messengers that you can add to your plan.

Top features

  • Sub-jobs to let you categorize shifts in fine detail — for example, which restaurant areas they’re responsible for
  • Permission filters so you can control what other managers or employees can do and see
  • Task checklists so you can assign work as well as hours

Pros and cons

Like Homebase and Sling, Connecteam has a free plan. You can use all the features you like provided you don’t exceed the limit of ten users. 

The problem is if you have a larger team, Connecteam requires many upgrades to access all the features. For example, the communication tools are in a separate hub and the compliance tools are only in the two highest-cost plans.

Pricing

Aside from the free plan for the ten users we mentioned, Connecteam has four plans:

  • Basic at $29 per month (plus 60 cents for every user over the limit of 30) which has basic scheduling and self-scheduling tools.
  • Advanced at $49 (plus $1.80 cents for every user over the limit of 30) for everything in Basic plus template tools and custom notifications.
  • Expert at $99 (plus $3.60 cents for every user over the limit of 30) to add the compliance tools.
  • Enterprise with a custom price for all the features from the previous plans and unlimited sub-jobs. 

4. When I Work: Best for multiple admins

Screenshot of a shift alert on When I Work's mobile app
When I Work gives you three admin logins in its lowest cost plan so other managers can easily help create, edit, and publish schedules. Source

Unlike many other work schedule apps, When I Work gives you three admins from the lowest cost plan. This means you can share scheduling duties easily with other managers. If more than one manager can log in simultaneously, this also increases the chances of one of you receiving an urgent message and responding quickly.

Top features

  • Autoscheduling to create instant timetables based on availability
  • Template tools that let you create reusable schedules
  • Labor forecasting to predict how many staff you need per shift

Pros and cons

When I Work’s biggest draw is the range of tools it includes in its lowest cost plan. You can use autoscheduling, templates, and labor forecasting without upgrading. 

However, When I Work lacks essential features like payroll and HR tools and doesn’t integrate with many other business apps. This means you may end up having to manually enter schedule data in the other platforms you use.

Pricing

When I Work has two plans at $2.50 and $4 per user per month. The higher-cost plan has advanced scheduling tools like custom reporting and rules. You can also add time tracking and early pay access to each plan for $1.50 and $2.00 per user respectively.

5. Humanity: Best for Apple Watch compatibility

Screenshots of the Humanity app on a desktop, tablet, mobile, and watch display.
The Humanity app is compatible with Apple Watch so team members can easily see notifications as they’re working. Source

Many of Humanity’s features make it a good option for on-the-go workers. First, it’s compatible with Apple Watch so employees can see alerts as they’re working. And secondly, you can schedule according to specific skills and qualifications which makes it easier to assign staff based on their specific expertise.

Top features

  • Scheduling based on what skills and qualifications you need for each shift
  • Possibility to use the app with Apple Watch
  • Importing external KPIs into the platform to forecast future scheduling needs 

Pros and cons

If you’re considering an app for an on-the-go team, you need something that will work with phones, tablets, and even the Apple Watch. And Humanity users say the software is “simple” and “easy to use”. But it’s worth noting they also report “trouble saving” schedules and often have to recreate them.

Pricing

Humanity offers custom pricing so they don’t advertise their rates. There are three plans available:

  • Starter for basic scheduling tools and access to the mobile app.
  • Classic for everything in Starter plus autoscheduling and analytics tools.
  • Enterprise which has everything from the previous two plans and labor forecasting.

6. HotSchedules powered by Fourth: Best for employee feedback

Overlapping screenshots of the HotSchedules dashboard on tablet and mobile.
HotSchedules lets you get a full picture of your scheduling needs with labor forecasting and staff feedback. Source

While labor and sales figures are useful, they can’t tell you everything. For instance, demanding customers who don’t buy many products can mask how challenging a particular shift really is. So, HotSchedules’ end-of-shift survey lets employees leave more in-depth feedback. That means you can collect more qualitative data for a well-rounded idea of whether you’re adequately staffed or teaming the right people together. 

Top features

  • End of shift surveys to let team members share concerns 
  • Alerts for compliance issues while schedule building
  • Choice of messaging individuals or broadcasting messages to the entire team

Pros and cons

As Fourth owns HotSchedules, you have the option to add their other HR products like time tracking, payroll, and inventory management. That means you’re more likely to be able to run all your tasks from one platform rather than switching between several. You have to put aside some time to learn HotSchedules, though — users warn the app is “complicated” and “takes getting used to”.

Pricing

Fourth doesn’t advertise its pricing plans.

7. Calendly: Best for scheduling appointments

A Calendly meeting poll graphic.
Calendly helps employees manage when they meet team members and clients. Source

Some businesses base their schedules around meeting times rather than opening hours. That might be because they have freelance staff who manage their own timetables or because they charge clients per appointment. If that’s you, then you might like the sound of Calendly. This scheduling app lets you find the optimal time for meetings quickly and integrates with popular chat tools including Zoom and Google Meet.

Top features

  • Meeting polls to determine the best time to talk efficiently
  • Availability settings so employees can indicate when they’re free
  • Analytics on popular meeting types and times 

Pros and cons

The biggest pro to Calendly is the choice of five plans including a free one and a custom pricing one. That means you can find the exact pricing to suit your budget. But Calendly’s lack of features for scheduling hourly workers makes it unsuitable for many types of small businesses like shops and cafes.

Pricing

As mentioned above, Calendly has five plans:

  • Basic which is free and provides one calendar, unlimited meetings, and integrations to software like Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • Essentials at $8 per user per month for a second calendar, reminders, and follow-ups.
  • Professional at $12 per user per month to add workflows, analytic tools, and branding.
  • Teams at $16 per user per month for everything in Professional plus syncing events across your team.
  • Enterprise with custom pricing for compliance tools and dedicated support personnel. Calendly recommends this for teams of over 30 people.

Homebase makes scheduling easy

When it comes to choosing a work schedule app for your business, there are many great options out there. But Homebase stands out as the best choice.

Homebase understands that small businesses need to make every expense count. So, we pack a lot into our app and don’t add unnecessary extras. We provide features to streamline scheduling, make sure you stay within your labor budget, and give employees more control over their hours. That way you can save time on scheduling and make your team happy without cutting into your profits.

**The information above is based on our research on work schedule apps. All user feedback referenced in the text has been sourced from independent software review platforms, such as G2 and Capterra, in April 2023.