How to Optimize Shift Management in 2021

men at desk writing on shift schedule

This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Keith Coppersmith.


When you think of a typical workday, you probably imagine hours filled with meaningful, superbly relevant activities that will define the success of the business in question.

The reality is quite different, since research has shown that most people waste over 7 hours per week on irrelevant tasks at work, while 80% of an entire workday is spent on tasks with little value, if any at all. Knowing that, we could all imagine the financial repercussions of such time-wasting behavior and our own inability to manage our schedules effectively. 

If we were to set specific goals and make sure that our schedules and shifts are focused on meaningful assignments, we’d all be able to remain more productive and more successful.

While the ongoing pandemic has pushed more companies to switch to remote work in recent months, managers need to focus on shift management more than ever to enable productivity in their remote teams, too. Here’s how you can achieve that goal in 2021.

two women wearing masks and doing an elbow bump

Reduce Contact Among Employees

Working in shifts during the pandemic has caused a number of different problems. For starters, you need to plan for incorporating more cleaning sessions within shifts, to reduce the risk of spreading the virus internally.

Moreover, you need to remind employees to practice social distancing and wear masks, use hand sanitizers, and wash their hands frequently and thoroughly before, during, and after each shift.

More than ever, it’s essential to keep shifts with fewer people. That might mean that you’ll need to organize a greater number of shorter shifts to cover the busiest hours or to enable some of your teams to work remotely in order to have the appropriate number of people available during your busiest hours.

This becomes even more challenging if you’re using a shared office or a coworking space. Not only do you have to make sure that your shifts are optimized so your team can stay safe, but you also have to make sure that the contact with other occupants of the office space is reduced to the minimum.

That’s why it’s essential to find a coworking space that takes all the necessary safety measures so your employees can stay both productive and safe.

woman interviewing man at a job interview

Hire People Qualified for Managing Shifts

As much as we’d all love to leave it all up to AI and innovative software tools to ensure absolute optimization, the bottom line is, your business’s time management and effectiveness depend on people. With that in mind, companies will need to rethink their hiring processes and strategies in 2021. 

For one, the ability to manage larger and growing teams will be a trait valuable for assessing potential managers as well as shift workers. Looking at their past experience will include more than just sifting through recommendations – you’ll also need to ask them if they are able or if they’ve already worked in different shifts, for example, to cover various time zones in support teams.

Hiring the right people will help cut the training time for these roles and prevent errors that can cost your business valuable time and resources down the line.

Use Software to Track Attendance

The technology you use in your organization will affect the kind of corporate culture you can build and the kind of relationships your employees develop over time. Organizing schedules and shifts might seem like a simple enough task, but without transparency, you cannot expect your employees to feel valued or to understand your expectations properly. 

In 2021, more businesses will start implementing time and attendance systems that can track employee shifts and empower transparency across your organization.

By monitoring employee attendance, managers can also recognize more difficult tasks, understand the time it takes for certain processes to be completed, and they can help allocate hours more responsibly among teams. 

paper with graphs and analytics on it

Rely on Data and Ongoing Analytics

Whether your teams will work from home or you need them on-site (while respecting social distancing rules and other measures), you should leverage the tech tools and software you’re using to learn about your employees’ habits and work processes.

The data and analytics available through such tools will give you the information you need to make your shift management more efficient.

For starters, you’ll be able to notice if some of your teams are wasting time on menial assignments or distractions instead of devoting time to core processes. Spotting which shifts require more staff and which ones are lighter on workload will help you allocate resources accordingly and make sure that those who work in the busiest shifts have the right support and tools at hand. 

Ensure Fair Workload Allocation

One of the biggest issues poor shift management leads to is burnout. Some employees will inevitably end up covering more hours in your weekly and monthly schedule, even though you don’t intend them to, or they’ll work during more busy shifts, putting more pressure on their productivity.

Fair workload allocation doesn’t depend solely on the amount of time someone covers in your organization, which is why you need to be smart when assigning people to specific shifts.

Consider when you need more people in a single timeslot to cover the work, when you have slow shifts, and when some of your staff could benefit from a change of pace.

When it’s time to create new schedules for the months ahead, keep the idea of workload allocation. Reward and incentivize people who perform well and who emphasize quality over quantity, and more people will follow suit.


Although shift management will be a more cumbersome task in 2021 for companies that have yet to adjust to working remotely, these ideas should allow you to streamline and automate a portion of this process.

Make schedules and shifts easier for your teams, and you’ll have more time on your hands to focus on growth and productivity that will ultimately allow your business to blossom.

About the Author

Keith Coppersmith headshot

Keith Coppersmith is a business and marketing expert who has experienced both the rise and fall of many businesses. As a regular contributor at BizzmarkBlog, he enjoys writing and providing insight into the marketing industry based on both practice and theory.