Building a work schedule is easy if you start with a free weekly schedule template. It provides space to enter employee names, their work days and times, a list of tasks they’ll be assigned, and how many hours they’ll work. That helps ensure work gets done, and you don’t end up paying unexpected overtime.
Small businesses wanting an online drag and drop work schedule template might consider working with a scheduling app like When I Work. When I Work provides a free weekly schedule template within its scheduling software —as well as communication tools so that employees can let you know if they have a conflict. Best of all, it’s free for up to 75 employees. Sign up for your free account today.
How the Free Weekly Schedule Template Works
The free weekly schedule template provided below is built in a spreadsheet and works with Excel and Google sheets. Anyone with basic spreadsheet skills can add rows and columns to accommodate the various details unique to your business. It also has pre-programmed fields to add up the hours scheduled per day and per week to help you manage your employee workload and avoid overtime surprises.
To use the free work schedule template, you first need to download and save a copy of it. That allows you to manipulate the template while keeping the original file intact. Since it’s a weekly template, you may want to create a new version (using tabs) for each new week. Once your template is built, you can print or share it with your workers electronically. That’s helpful to get their feedback and confirmation that they can indeed work the shifts you’ve scheduled them into.
Modify the Free Weekly Schedule Template for Your Team
No free weekly schedule template is likely to work perfectly for your team as is. You may want to include paid and unpaid breaks, indicate work locations instead of job roles, or schedule employees for split shifts. Those modifications can be made using basic spreadsheet skills in Excel or Google Sheets.
Here are the steps you’ll take to personalize the free weekly schedule template:
1. List All Employees Available to Work
The most important part of your employee schedule is the people. Who do you have on staff that’s available to work in your business this week? When you’re creating a weekly schedule you’ll need to know who is not available as well. Is someone on vacation? Are your part-time summer staff heading back to school? Is one of your key resources out with the flu? You can only build your schedule with the employees who are available to work in a given week.
Available employees are those who can work during the week you’re scheduling. You may have more employees than you need, in which case you have a few choices:
- You can put everyone on the schedule, reducing the hours of some staff to meet your scheduling needs.
- You can schedule the regular workers or the best workers, leaving the others on standby or on-call (that means you’ll contact them if you need them—but they’re not on the schedule, officially).
Unavailable employees may have been able to work last week or be open to working next week but are unavailable this week. Either way, you can omit them from the current week’s schedule. However, you’ll need a way to keep track of them so you don’t forget to add them back to the employee work schedule next week. Online employee scheduling software can help keep track of your entire employee list and workers’ leave requests, including why they’re unavailable (sick leave, PTO, jury duty) and when they’ll return.
2. Set up Your Work Days & Dates
The free weekly employee schedule template has all seven days of the week listed: Monday through Sunday. However, you’ll need to input the calendar date for each of those days every week. You’ll also need to add or remove days to suit your business. For example, the schedule includes weekends, but if your business doesn’t work weekends, you can delete the Saturday and Sunday columns from the spreadsheet.
Your Business Workweek
Many companies start their workweek on a Monday and end their payroll cycle Sunday night. However, some businesses start their workweek on a Saturday, Sunday, or another weekday. If that’s the case for your business, you’ll need to move the columns around on the work schedule template to match your company workweek (if it doesn’t run Monday through Sunday). That helps align your employees’ work schedule with your pay schedule and simplifies overtime calculations.
Your Work Shifts
When setting up your days and dates, you may need to include shifts. A shift might be an eight-hour part of the day, like day shift, night shift, or graveyard shift. Or, it might be a daypart such as breakfast, lunch, or dinner—commonly used in a restaurant shift schedule. By adding work shifts in advance when you input your calendar dates, you’ll find it easier to schedule employees into those shifts as well as identify any (open) shifts that aren’t yet filled.
3. Determine Start & End Times For Each Employee
In addition to what day they’ll work, each employee will need to know what time you expect them to be on the job. Most employees are scheduled for a standard work shift, such as 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the office or 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the warehouse floor. However, some workers are scheduled for shifts based on your business needs such as setting up flowers for a wedding or coming in early to prepare.
Standard shifts can be set up on your work schedule template with a start and end time that’s not likely to change from week to week. For example, the day shift for your home healthcare workers might always start at 6 a.m., whereas the graveyard shift might always start at 10 p.m.
However, shifts tied to how busy your business is, for instance, in retail or food service, may vary. As an example, the daytime breakfast shift in a coffee house may be longer on Sundays than on Mondays, meaning you’ll need to adjust your scheduled shifts according to the day of the week or for any special events.
Some businesses require employees to be scheduled for split shifts. For instance, they may schedule an employee to work breakfast and dinner shifts in the cafeteria on the same day but have unpaid time off between those work hours.
You will need to note the start and end times of each shift for that worker. Also, be aware of state overtime laws; California’s overtime law requires that employers calculate overtime daily in addition to paying a shift premium of one hour’s pay to any employee who is scheduled to work a split shift.
4. Describe Work Activities Each Employee Will Complete
Often, you can describe the work that needs to be completed by listing the worker’s job title, such as prep cook or customer service rep next to their name on the schedule; this is because employee’s work is usually based on their job description. However, on some schedules, an employee’s job may change throughout the week.
One day your worker may be assigned to staff the front desk, while another day they may be assigned to the stockroom or scheduled to assist with an event. In those cases, you’ll need to add the role or work task to the free employee schedule template as a new row beneath or as additional text in the cell adjacent to the time they’re scheduled to work.
Scheduling Office Work
If your employees primarily do office work, it’s possible their job is the same all day. For example, if one employee in your insurance sales department is the office manager, another is the receptionist, and three work on customer quotes, you can list their job roles next to their names (because they never change) on your work schedule template.
Scheduling Shift Work
Scheduling shift work is more complex than office work. For example, in a restaurant, a new employee may be assigned to the host desk to greet diners on the weekends, but work as a waiter on slower days of the week. They also don’t often work the exact same hours from week to week. They may work 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. on weekends at the host stand, but only 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays when they wait tables. Using an employee scheduling app with built-in team messaging helps you communicate with employees about any schedule specifics or changes for each shift.
Due to the complexity of shift scheduling and the need to stay in close contact with your workers, we recommend using an employee scheduling app like When I Work. It earns great reviews. It lets employees view the schedule, request time off, and swap shifts—all online. When I Work allows you to send shift reminders and schedule details, improving teamwork and reducing no shows. Sign up for When I Work free if you have 75 or fewer employees.
Scheduling Project Work
When you customize the free employee schedule template for project work, you’ll need to add additional details related to projects your employees are working on. For example, they may work on building a client website Monday and Tuesday, and then Wednesday, they may prepare a marketing presentation for a new customer. What they do and when they do it varies by project, requiring you to add additional details and notes to your work schedule.
To track project-based employee work schedules and get access to pre-built work schedule templates for all kinds of industries, consider using drag-and-drop project management and scheduling tool like Monday.com. Monday.com earns great reviews and allows you to track details like tasks, client approvals, work specifications, and so much more. Sign up for a free trial to start tracking your project-based employee schedules today.
Off-site or Service Work
Businesses that do service work, like home repairs or mobile dog grooming, will need a schedule that includes extensive details such as the address of the home, a description of the work to be done, and directions to get there. Pet names, gate codes, and client contact information should also be included in the schedule (in case the worker has questions or needs help finding the customer’s address).
5. Get Feedback & Publish Your Schedule
You can take a few different routes on gathering feedback and publishing your work schedule, which is why we combined them as one step. Some managers like to share a draft schedule and get feedback before finalizing it. Others publish the final schedule and then require employees to request formal changes as needed due to unforeseen issues like having a sick child at home from school.
What it Means to Get Feedback
Getting feedback can be as simple as posting your draft schedule on the wall and having employees post sticky notes if they have issues or change requests. However, using software, like When I Work, you can get employee input earlier and even have workers assign themselves to open shifts or swap shifts with their peers. Regardless of your method, email, text, or app, if you want to avoid disagreements and no shows, it’s a good idea to confirm the schedule with employees.
What it Means to Publish Your Employee Schedule
Some businesses prefer to lock down the weekly work schedule at some point in advance, such as the Friday prior. That’s when they make the final schedule available and consider it published. Publishing your schedule makes it visible to workers in its final version, typically in paper or online. That’s also when you should avoid making last-minute changes, except for emergencies, such as a worker’s car breaking down.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Work Schedule Templates
How do I create a monthly plan in Excel?
Excel offers a free monthly template that you can customize to your own monthly scheduling plan. When you create a new file, it gives you the option to input information into the search field for the type of file you want to build. If you choose “Calendar,” you’ll find many monthly options to start with.
What’s the best way to get employee feedback on the work schedule?
Excel and Google Sheets both offer a way to share your schedule spreadsheet electronically with anyone who has a link to it. You can give your employees view access to the schedule and have them email or text you their change requests. Or, you can allow your employees to add their names to open shifts themselves by giving them edit access to your employee schedule.
Can I keep all my employees on the schedule even if they don’t work that week?
Yes, you can keep employees on the employee schedule template when they’re on paid time off (PTO) or out for a bit. Simply blank out their start and end times throughout the schedule template and ensure you don’t schedule them for any work hours. Their total scheduled hours for the week should be zero. You can also add a comments column to your spreadsheet to indicate when a worker is not available on a given week.
Can I add shift notes to the free weekly schedule template?
Yes, the free weekly schedule template is yours to customize. You can add rows or columns with any information that you need to share with your employees. You can even include document links, such as to your new menu, or to alert workers of any sales or specials.
Your business’ weekly scheduling needs may vary from the examples provided above. The benefit of starting with a free weekly schedule template is that you can customize it to suit your business by using basic Excel skills. You can also check out our other free downloadable employee schedule templates that suit daily, monthly, and other common work scheduling needs.
If you want to manage more project complexity than a simple employee work schedule provides, it’s best to consider modern project and task management software. Monday.com provides a completely configurable work schedule and project task management tool with oodles of templates that make getting started easy. Get your free trial of Monday.com.