Rota Schedule

Rota scheduling software makes creating rotas simple. By inputting tasks, their times, and who handles them, you can set up a schedule up with ease.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: July 6, 2022
  • 7 Minutes
rota schedule software by Papershift

There are situations in life that may require you to set up a schedule. These range from planning for a wedding to running a business to working out who does which household chore. You may just want to manage your time better or ensure that you complete a specific task quickly. Whatever the reason, setting up a rota schedule can help keep things organised.

The problem is, setting up a rota can be tricky. Balancing the needs of the task with the people completing them is hard.

In this article, we will discuss what a rota schedule is, why you might need one, and the various tools available to help. Let’s start with the basics.

What is a rota schedule?

A rota schedule (also known simply as a rota or roster) is a way to manage time and tasks efficiently. We set most rota schedules out in calendar format (or a table) with tasks and those responsible for them placed in the correct place.

What formats can a rota schedule come in?

We can create Rota schedules in many formats, including:

  • Paper-based. This is the old-fashioned way of creating a rota. Paper-based schedules are often simply a table with time slots and tasks. There may also feature the name of the person (s) who will complete the task.
  • Spreadsheet-based schedule. Spreadsheet software is great for creating rosters. The tabular format of the software is a good fit for calendar-based rotas. They are also easier to amend than paper-based solutions.
  • Specific rota scheduling software. There are many rota creation software tools available. These make creating rota’s easy and may provide additional features.

rota schedule by Papershift

Why rota schedule on a spreadsheet is not recommended?

We’d like to raise awareness of at least 9 disadvantages that a spreadsheet poses to rota scheduling. This is compiled from the top rota managers in the industry who upgraded to rota software from a spreadsheet tool. The list would be hereby –

  1. Cannot get an instant overview of employees’ hourly accounts, pending hours, and quenched hours.
  2. Cannot check how many employees are working in a location and for a time slot.
  3. Cannot manage employee absences, think of a situation when a rota has to be swapped on short notice?
  4. Inflexibility on rota changes, spreadsheets have to be printed again or emailed, while a rota software can just send out a rota change notification.
  5. Employees cannot look at open shifts and apply for it proactively. Thereby a spreadsheet is closed to the employees’ suggestions.
  6. Complicated formulas. Spreadsheets can only be handled by excel experts.
  7. Share and publish location-wise or day-wise specific rota schedule. The whole schedule is not out in the open to prying eyes. Security.
  8. Automatic rota scheduling? Nah.
  9. Predictive and proactive scheduling? Definitely nah.
9 reasons why spreadsheet is costly to your business!!
Excel is a great tool and has many applications. But compared to dedicated rota software, it is lacking in scheduling features and becomes too unwieldy when data sets are large.

Take a look at our dedicated guide on reasons against excel for rota scheduling.

Why might you need a rota schedule?

There are many reasons to create a rota schedule, including:

  • Cleaning rota. If you live in shared accommodation, keeping it clean may be problematic. A cleaning rota will help ensure the property is tidy, and that everyone does their part.
  • A duty rota. We usually create duty-based rotas for work where they will create a schedule for tasks. They can also divide tasks between staff or give specific responsibilities at different times.
  • Household rota. If you share a house with others, you may set up a rota to divide up chores. Similar to a cleaning rota, this will show who does what at any given time. It may involve non-cleaning tasks like shopping, gardening, etc.

What does a rota schedule look like?

A rota schedule can look different depending on how you set it up. On paper or a spreadsheet, it may look like a table. In software, it will still be tabular in nature but may be hidden behind a user interface.

In all formats, the rota schedule will divide days/dates into time slots that allow for the easy placing of tasks.

Common rota scheduling mistakes affect the health of employees, know them?

Experienced rota planners take into consideration a lot of things that help both the business and especially the employees. However, experience comes by committing lot of mistakes and overcoming it, we list down frequently made mistakes while creating a rota schedule, especially on a spreadsheet –

  1. Assigning a rota schedule without matching the skill requirements of the employee. For ex: a resto-bar should on Friday evenings have to be staffed with additional bartenders.
  2. Failing to have backup rota workers and also communicating the backup workers to be available at work on short notice.
  3. Big mistake. One where an employee is assigned continuous rota slots without the mandatory statutory breaks.
  4. Failure to distribute night/graveyard rota shifts proportionally among employees without any ambiguity. As rota managers, you are also managing their healthy sleep schedule. Shift work sleep disorders are a common problem these days.
  5. Creating inflexible and too rigid rota schedules.
Shift work sleep disorder problems in UK !!
As a matter of fact, an estimated £ 37 Billion is lost due to SWSD.

On a positive note, seasoned rota managers also have their recommended ways to solve such mistakes. Using rota software is one such solution obviously. A rota software will automatically alert you when an employee is given a rota schedule without breaks. We have compiled solutions to avoid such rota mistakes in our guide here.

What about rota scheduling software?

Rota scheduling software makes creating rotas simple. By inputting tasks, their times, and who handles them, you can set up a schedule up with ease. They also make amending tasks as simple as changing a couple of variables.

Most rota scheduling software applications are free, but some cost a one-off or monthly fee. Some even come in app format, allowing you to use a smartphone to edit and view rosters remotely.

Reduce rota planning time to few hours, not days !!
On average, a rota manager spends about 18 hours a week just planning rota schedules. A good rota software can reduce this time to 1-2 hours.

Hear it from our customer on the number of hours saved. “Papershift has saved our staff 10 hours a week each. That’s a massive reduction in planning time.”

How should an effective rota schedule look like?

We’ll list them down for you –

  1. Have consistency with employees’ routines and enable them to anticipate rota changes rarely.
  2. Reduces employee burnout by taking into consideration statutory break compliances.
  3. Enable monitoring daily/weekly/monthly employee attendance and lateness.
  4. Flexibility to manage employee time-off requests.
  5. Flexibility for last-minute changes and quick notification of such changes to employees via a rota app.
  6. Proactive rota scheduling with alerts for peak business period. Ex: holiday season retail or overstaffing during weekends in restaurants.

Does your rota software do the above? If not, try Papershifts rota software free for 14 days or signup for a free demo.

Your frequently asked questions on rota scheduling.

What are the major types of rota schedules?
The modern world has as many as 15 rota types. However, the most predominant ones are fixed rota schedule and rotating rota schedule. More on other rota types here.
What law governs the rota scheduling norms in the UK?
There are many rules, laws, and regulations pertaining to the workplace. And while many of them do not specifically refer to scheduling, their reach can affect how businesses create rotas. If a workplace requires a rota or schedule, it is contractually obliged to provide one in good time. The law does not specify how long this time is other than to say it must be reasonable. Because of the vague nature of this law, the length of notice can change from business to business. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employees have the right to a rest period of 11 uninterrupted hours each day. On top of this, they must have 24 uninterrupted hours’ rest and cannot work over 48 hours in a week. Keeping compliance with these rules can present a massive headache to schedules.
What are the benefits of a rota software?
Top 3 would be – reduced wage costs, legal & regulatory compliance and of course informed and happier employees
What are the challenges of a rota schedule for a rota manager?
We would list the top 4 often mentioned by seasoned rota managers – rota planning with legal compliance such as break rules, sharing and distributing the rota schedules, under scheduling and may be sometimes over scheduling and finally managing no call no shows.


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Illustration by Icons 8 from Ouch!

Photo by Ethan Hoover on Unsplash

Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)