Microsoft has added a great new shift scheduling, management and collaboration feature to Microsoft Teams called ‘Shifts’—which is replacing the Microsoft StaffHub app.
This is likely to be a useful feature for your organisation if you have any employees that work on a shift basis and you need a rota scheduling tool.
This article provides a beginner’s guide to Shifts and how to set it up and use it.
Why use Shifts in Microsoft Teams?
The key reasons why you would use Shifts include:
- Management of shift/rota schedules
- Communication between mobile workers
- Collaboration between mobile workers
- Sharing of documents, news bulletins and videos
- Employee requests for alterations to shift schedules and time off
Who is Shifts for?
Microsoft says that Shifts was created for businesses with ‘Firstline Workers’ – i.e. workers who operate as a company’s customer facing representatives (e.g. front of house, baristas, telephone operatives etc.) or those on the shop or factory floor (e.g. factory production-line operatives, store assistants and restaurant servers etc). According to Microsoft, 80% of the global workforce comprises Firstline Workers (1).
In typically mobile roles, or roles without workstations and computers, these employees historically have lacked a platform which could enhance organisation, communication and collaboration with fellow Firstline colleagues and management.
At Chorus, our IT Support staff use Shifts for scheduling their working hours.
What’s the difference between Shifts and Microsoft StaffHub?
Microsoft previously provided organisations with a digital shift management and collaboration app called StaffHub, however it was announced at Microsoft Ignite in 2018 that StaffHub would be retired (and much of the functionality would be merged into Microsoft Teams). The reasoning behind the decision was to prevent overlap between the various Office 365 apps – allowing users to work inside one app without the need to keep switching between them.
When will StaffHub be retired?
StaffHub will be retired on 1st October 2019. This means that the StaffHub application will stop working on that date. Users attempting to access StaffHub will be directed to a Microsoft Teams download link. Between 1st April 2019 and 1st October 2019, StaffHub users will be served with notifications in the app, informing them of the coming changes.
Do I have access to Shifts?
If you pay for an Office 365 plan which includes Microsoft Teams, then you can use Shifts. This includes Education and Not for Profit plans, however, the free version of Teams doesn’t include Shifts.
How to use Shifts in Teams
Getting set up
To get started, click on the ‘three dots’ in the Teams menu bar. You’ll see Shifts as one of the additional apps listed here.
You can only create a schedule if you’re recognised as an owner of the Office 365 Team you wish to create the schedule for.
Select ‘create’ to continue.
If your team operates globally, it’s important to consider which time zone you wish to use for the shift schedule.
Once you click ‘confirm’, you’ll see the Shifts overview screen appear.
To add team members to the plan, click the ‘add people to the group’ button. You can add any colleagues to the Shift schedule as long as they have an Office 365 profile.
To create a shift for a team member, double click on any empty slot in their schedule and fill in the details about the shift.
Add various details about the shift such as:
- Start and finish times
- Theme colour (you may decide certain colours will be used for certain shift types or activities)
- Notes about what work the shift will include and anything to pay attention to
- Duration of breaks and lunch – and whether or not breaks will be paid
You can add a team name for the shift schedule. Simply enter a name into the box above the shift slots which are now populated with the shifts you have created.
The open shifts row allows you to create shifts before allocating them to team members.
Once you’ve created an open shift, you can click the ‘three dots’ and a menu will appear with further options. This will also allow you to assign the open shift to a member of the team.
You can also add notes about the shift schedule for the respective days of the week.
Your team members won’t be notified until you share the shifts with them. To do this, click on ‘Share with team’ in the top right corner of the screen.
You will then have the option to select which days of the calendar you wish to share with team members. Select the first and last day of the range you want to include and then choose whether to share with the ‘entire team’ (i.e. those listed against the schedule) or ‘only affected people’ (i.e. the people who have been assigned shifts).
Adding and approving requests
You can easily make, approve or deny requests for:
- Time off
- Shift swaps
- Offers of available shifts
The ‘requests’ button can be found towards the top right corner of the main schedule screen.
You can easily add requests and see whether previous requests have been approved.
Does shifts work with people outside the organisation?
Shifts doesn’t currently support guest users—even if you’re using guest users in Microsoft Teams.
Is there a mobile app for Shifts?
You can get the Microsoft Teams app for iOS and Android from Microsoft here. Shifts is available within the Teams app and can be pinned to your Teams navigation bar if you wish.
In summary, Shifts is a nice first step from Microsoft as it looks to bring the StaffHub functionality into Teams. While some of StaffHub’s functionality is not yet available in Shifts, Microsoft will be updating it over the coming months as StaffHub nears retirement. Given the massive investment and growth in Microsoft Teams, it makes sense for Microsoft to consolidate many of the various Office 365 apps’ functionality into Teams where possible.
Microsoft are determined to provide an enterprise-grade scheduling and collaboration solution for Firstline Workers—so you can be sure that they will continue to invest in Shifts.
If you aren’t yet using Microsoft Teams, then we recommend enabling it and exploring its capabilities. Teams is going to be integral to Microsoft’s strategy for Office 365 – not just because it is replacing Skype for Business, but because it is becoming the central destination to bring together all your Office 365 apps. Check out our ‘Beginners guide to Teams’ to help get started.
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