Scheduling tools: how to schedule office staff?

If you need to schedule office staff, it’s easy if you have done it before or you have a scheduling template to guide you. Starting from scratch, however, can be a bit tricky.

Suffice to say, there is an abundance of different tools out there, so when a couple of decades ago the question was where to find any tools for the job, the question now seems to be how to find the right one. All tools have their pro’s and con’s. Some, however, are better than the others.

The whiteboard

If you have an open office, which is relatively small, all the scheduling can be done on the whiteboard: as the office is open and the number of is small, anyone and everyone can keep an eye on what’s going on and are therefore constantly up to date. However, in a digital world, where everything is coming more and more ‘mobile’ and ‘shared’, a whiteboard is still an analog player.

On the other hand the whiteboard is better for meetings, especially in meetings where there is brainstorming involved. The keyboard of the computer has become rather comfortable for most of us (how comfortable, can be noticed when you have to write something by hand), but we still lack the technical freedom to express our thought via digital drawings - you cannot draw your ideas on a wall and then erase them. Not yet, anyway. And namely for that a whiteboard is a great tool for brainstorming - it is not limited by technology and thus, you can express yourself freely.

A piece of paper

The good old A4 is definitely irreplaceable if you wish to hang up a meeting room schedule (next to the meeting room, of course), but being in many ways similar to the whiteboard, it lacks the mobility one would expect from a modern organization: you cannot share it, it’s not easily accessible and is a rather ‘local’ form of communication. You could always send the list to everyone via email, but the constant updates would eventually drive you crazy, if you should be the one who’s responsible for any changes in the schedule. Plus, everyone how would receive the document, would most probably print it out every time a change is made - that’s not very environmentally friendly, is it?


Like I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions, I’m a huge fan of different applications or apps, as they are known. Be it an app for your desktop, laptop, Mac or your smartphone, if it makes my life easier, I’m hooked. The great thing about apps is the fact, that they’re usually made for only one specific thing and thus, have no need for other (distracting) bells and whistles. Regardless, all the relevant stuff (real-time updating, sharing, reports) are still there.

And the same applies to scheduling your staff at the office - it has all the functionalities one needs to get the job done, because the people behind it are usually specialists with extensive know-how, so in a way you might look at an app as professional know-how in a digital package.

A shared calendar

If you are not too fond of non-digital scheduling tools, but at the same time are not fond of apps either, you might be a calendar user.

Since the calendars have been around for a number of years, they have had the time to develop and mature, thus evolving into a multitasking tool that can be used for many things, scheduling your staff included.

The downside is in the limited options a calendar has. Namely, it is not built for staff management. To some extend - I agree - it can, but as the appetite grows with eating, at some point you’ll come to the understanding that a calendar can only offer so much and you have to take additional tools into use as well. The conclusion? You’ll be juggling different platforms in no time, driving you crazy at the same time.

Excel, Calc, Numbers - spreadsheets

One way to schedule your office staff is to use spreadsheets. As a relatively simple task like office scheduling is a breeze for any spreadsheet program, the possibilities are virtually endless, but that’s also the problem: if you have a template to start off from, you’re in luck, but if you have to start from scratch, the possibility of making errors is quite big. Besides, spreadsheets have a lot of shortcomings, as we’ve pointed out in our previous blogs.

So be it a piece of paper you’re using to keep your staff on track and up to date or a internationally recognised and track-proven app, be sure to weigh all your possibilities thoroughly - a professional mess is something that will ruin anyone’s day.